In his Olympics debut, Bradley Adkins beat last year’s world championships silver medalist. That, and clearing three heights Sunday night in Rio de Janeiro weren’t enough to get the former Idalou and Texas Tech standout into the finals of the high jump.
Adkins finished 21st in a field of 43 jumpers, making 7 feet, 5 inches but missing all three attempts at 7-6 ¼, the height he needed to make Tuesday’s finals.
“I actually was really, really proud of his performance today,” Tech coach Wes Kittley said. “He looked to me like his old self.”
Adkins was one of two area athletes who competed Sunday night in Rio, the third day of Olympic track and field. South Plains College graduate Bralon Taplin finished seventh in a historic 400-meter final in which South Africa’s Wayde van Niekirk ran a world record 43.03 seconds and wiped out a field that included previous gold medalists Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt.
Taplin clocked 44.45, nearly identical to the 44.44 he ran the night before in winning a semifinal. The ex-Texan, running for Grenada, was in fifth place until two runners overtook him in the last 15 meters.
Adkins, a two-time NCAA runner-up at Tech, cleared 7-1 1/2 on his third attempt and made both 7-3 ¾ and 7-5 on his second attempt. Adkins cleared a personal record 7-6 twice in the past year, both indoors, and would’ve needed a new personal best to stay alive.
“All those jumps were good jumps,”Kittley said of Adkins’ sequence. “There’s just a lot of great jumpers in the world. He competed really hard and had one of the best meets he’s had all year. For first time to the Olympic games, I just thought he competed really well.”
Adkins completed his eligibility with the Red Raiders in June and will return to Tech to complete his degree in the fall.
The top 12 and ties moved on to the finals. Erik Kynard Jr., the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, is the only Team USA member in that group of 15. Former Mississippi all-American Ricky Robertson also topped out at 7-5.
High jump’s biggest stars in recent years — Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Canada’s Derek Drouin — all advanced with no misses. They all made 7-6 ¼, which was the last height needed to reduce the field to the predetermined finals size.
One of the jumpers Adkins beat was China’s Zhang Guowei, who cleared 7-7 ¾ for the silver medal in last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Guowei’s failed to make 7-5 Sunday.
RIO OLYMPICS TRACK & FIELD
Area athletes’ schedules
All Times CDT
Note: An “x” means an athlete must have advanced through previous round.
400-meter hurdles, first round: Janeil Bellille (South Plains College, Trinidad & Tobago), Sparkle McKnight (South Plains, Trinidad & Tobago), 7:30 p.m.
200 meters, first round: Shavez Hart (South Plains, Bahamas), 9:50 a.m.
400-meter hurdles, semifinals: x-Janeil Bellille (South Plains, Trinidad & Tobago), x-Sparkle McKnight (South Plains, Trinidad & Tobago), 7:10 p.m.
5,000 meters, first round: Kemoy Campbell (South Plains, Jamaica), 8:05 a.m.
800 meters, first round: Natoya Goule (South Plains, Jamaica), 8:55 a.m.
200 meters, semifinals: x-Shavez Hart (South Plains, Bahamas), 8 p.m.
800 meters, semifinals: x-Natoya Goule (South Plains, Jamaica), 7:15 p.m.
400-meter hurdles, finals: x-Janeil Bellille (South Plains, Trinidad & Tobago), x-Sparkle McKnight (South Plains, Trinidad & Tobago), 8:15 p.m.
200 meters, finals: x-Shavez Hart (South Plains, Bahamas), 8:30 p.m.