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Texas Longhorns in Rio: Track and Field

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Eleven representatives from the University of Texas will be competing in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Get to know them here.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Longhorns in nature may not be known for their speed, but don't tell that to University of Texas athletes. Whether it's John Burt qualifying for the NCAA championships in 110 meter hurdles, or Isaiah Taylor being hailed as one of the fastest point guards in the college game -- Longhorns in Austin can run (or throw, in the case of shot putters).

That's why it's no surprise there is quite a herd attending the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics for track and field -- nine University of Texas athletes have qualified for the August games, and two Longhorn coaches will be attending as well.

Though the Texas Longhorns will be bringing many track and field representatives to Rio, the names absent from the list are glaring.

Sanya Richards-Ross, who took gold in the 400 meters for women's track and field, pulled up from her 400 meter qualifying heat after a hamstring injury and therefore didn't make the team. It was a heartbreaking end to a career which included three Olympic appearances and a silver and gold medal. Ross had been experiencing injuries and announced she was retiring after this Olympics just two months before she failed to finish her qualifying heat.

"I’ve been so blessed," Richards-Ross said. "So I can’t cry. Can’t complain. Just want to keep my head up. I’m going to definitely miss it. But I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished and I’m in a great place right now," Richards-Ross told USA Today.

The 31-year-old Texas Ex joined NBC's broadcast crew for Rio just days after retiring.

Marquise Goodwin was another former Texas athlete who came up short of his dream. The current Buffalo Bills wide receiver competed in the long jump and was expected to easily make the roster since he had the two longest jumps in the world this year. However, he finished seventh, well short of the top three spot needed.

Goodwin has had an injury-riddled NFL career. In 2015 he was placed on season-ending injury reserve by the Bills in week four due to an aggravated rib injury. He only had two catches on the season.

A silver lining to Goodwin missing the cut for the Olympics is that he may now make the cut for the NFL next season. On the roster bubble for the Bills, Goodwin would have surely been cut had he qualified for Rio and missed most of football training camp.

"We are proud of the fact that he is representing our country, he is representing our football team, our community. But yeah it is hurting him," Rex Ryan told WKBW Buffalo prior to Goodwin's Olympic trials.

Though he won't be leaping in the Olympics this summer, hopefully, the 25-year old will be leaping for passes in the fall.

Enough of the sad stuff, here's the Texas track and field roster that will be in the Olympics:

Assistant Coaches

Robyne Johnson (jumps/combined events) and Mario Sategna (throws)

Robyne Johnson is not actually a coach at Texas, but she was an athlete on the Forty Acres. The former All-American hurdler was instrumental as a runner for the Longhorns' 1983 outdoor track championship team. As an athlete, she competed in four Olympic trials, but never won a medal on the Olympic stage. Now, she will get the opportunity to represent the United States in Rio as a coach.

Johnson has been the director of cross country and track and field at Boston University since 2005. The 29-year coaching veteran has also aided Rider, Penn State, and California-Berkeley as an assistant.

Mario Sategna is currently the head coach of track and field and cross country at Texas. He took over as the Longhorns' leader in 2013 after a ten-year stint as an assistant coach at the school. As a head coach of the men's and women's program, he has continued the winning traditions of the 'Horns. He won the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year awards in 2014.

As a throws assistant coach for the United States, Sategna will help discus and shot put athletes. Sategna was once a stellar talent himself, as he was an All-American athlete at Louisiana State University. In 1995, he claimed the NCAA championship in the decathlon, setting a school record 8,172 points.

Shot Put

Michelle Carter and Ryan Crouser

Though Michelle Carter graduated with a full ride from Texas back in 2007, she still is one of the world's premier female shot putters nine years later. Michelle is the daughter of former star NFL defensive tackle Michael Carter, who was the first person to win a Super Bowl and Olympic medal in the same year. Now, his daughter is paving history herself. The 30-year old set an Olympic trials record with a 19.59 meter toss.

"Team USA is the hardest team to make so you can never take these meets lightly. You can never count yourself as on the team. Each spot is earned and I earned my spot tonight," Carter said after qualifying.

Ryan Crouser is another record-setting shot putter to look out for in the games. The 6'7 thrower who graduated from UT in the spring holds the 18th-best shot put in history, and won the U.S. Olympic shot put trials on March 1st. He was a four-time NCAA champion in the shot put, and his 21.73 meter throw in the 2016 Big 12 Championsip was a collegiate record. Ryan's cousin, Haley Crouser, barely missed the Olympic roster in the javelin throws. Perhaps throwing unwieldy objects runs in the family.

The Oregon native was able to qualify for Rio in his home state, as the Hayward trials took place a little over an hour away from his hometown of Gresham.

Crouser discussed with the Oregonian how earning his path to representing his country by way of Oregon was a dream fulfilled. "I mean, I did go to Texas, but I think most of Hayward has forgiven me for that," he said.


Morolake Akinosun (4 x 100 meter relay), Chrisann Gordon (4 x 400 meter relay), and Courtney Okolo (4 x 400 meter relay)

Morolake Akinosun, who is pictured in this article's main image, is the Longhorn running the shortest distance of any Texas track athlete in Rio. She already won a gold medal in the 2015 Pan American games for the 4 x 100 relay, and also is a two time 4 x 400 relay NCAA champion. She is one of only two women in history to score in four events in back-to-back years at an NCAA outdoor event.

The Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls declared her a "Texas treasure" in May, and said that she should be "the most famous athlete on campus" due to her accomplishments on the field, and her 3.42 GPA. The native Nigerian and Texas senior will be competing for the USA in her event.

Chrisann Gordon will be the only Texas female track and field athlete not representing the United States. The Jamaican Texas senior will face off against fellow Longhorn Courtney Okolo in the 4 x 400 meter relay. Gordon may not hold the accolades that some of her fellow Texas teammates have, but she's a highly talented sprinter in her own right.

She was part of an NCAA championship 4 x 400 relay with Akinosun and Okolo, and she placed second in the Big 12 individual 400 meter final, falling only to Okolo. Gordon moved to West Texas from Jamaica for college. Since she had never taken the SAT or the ACT, she began her career with two years of junior college. Now, she's not only an integral component to the Longhorns, but also an Olympian as well.

But the heart and soul of the Texas Longhorns women's track team this season was Courtney Okolo. The American who graduated this spring came in first in 2016's World Indoor Championships for the 4 x 400 meter relay. Like the other women's track athletes, this will be her first Olympics, but the 22-year old has won enough championships at various stages that she shouldn't be too uncomfortable under the bright lights. In addition to her recent World Indoor Championship, Okolo is the NCAA record holder for the individual outdoor 400 meter, and was a USA junior champion for the 400 in 2013. Essentially, when it comes to running a lap around the track, it's hard to find someone better than Okolo. As expected, she won the field in her Olympic qualifying 400 meter run.


Marielle Hall (10,000 meter)

Regularly pushing through a 10k on a competitive basis may not seem appealing to most, but Marielle Hall thrives as a long-distance runner. The 24-year old Texas Ex emerged as a Longhorn standout her senior season in burnt orange in 2014. She went from competing mostly in mid distance races, to representing Texas in the 5,000 meter. It was in this event that she became the fastest women in the country with a 10th NCAA all-time showing 15:19:26 at the 2014 Stanford Invitational. Now, she has doubled her distance, qualifying for Rio with a third place finish in the 10,000 meter. The New Jersey native finished her 6.2 miles in a blazing 31 minutes.


Ashley Spencer (400 meter) and Byron Robinson (400 meter)

Ashley Spencer and Morolake Akinosun both transferred from Illinois to Texas after their coach, Tonja Buford-Bailey took the job of associate head coach in Austin. Now, the two athletes are both Olympians. Spencer was called "the future of American women's track and field" by Buford-Bailey in 2013, and it's easy to see why.

The 23-year old from Indianapolis was a member of the 4 x 400 meter 2016 World Indoor Champion team along with Courtney Okolo, and Spencer also claimed gold in the 400 and 4 x 400 meter relay in the 2012 Barcelona World Junior Championships.

Spencer placed second in the U.S. Olympic qualifier for hurdles, and she is ranked fifth in the world at the event. The Texas ex should be confident going into Rio, because two of the women ranked ahead of her were Americans who did not qualify for the Olympic games.

On the men's side, Byron Robinson is also competing in the 400 meter hurdles in the Olympics. The Chesapeake native was the Big 12 champion in hurdles this season, but was scratched from the NCAA regionals for undisclosed reasons. His 49.10 400 meter hurdles time at the LSU Alumni Gold race was the second best time in Texas school history. Robinson, who will be a senior in the fall, was emotional after his his personal best 48.79 time to qualify for the Olympics. He finished second in the race, .29 seconds off from a win.

"To be honest I don't even have words. I can't describe it. It's a life-long dream at 21. It hasn't sunk in yet," Robinson said to Texas Sports.

High jump

Jamal Wilson

This Texas Ex with serious hops and serious medal hopes qualified for the Olympics back on February 17th, clearing the qualifying mark by two centimeters at an event in Linz, Austria. He will compete nearly half a year after he qualified, as Wilson's event will take place on August 14th. The 12th ranked high jumper will look to pull an upset to win a medal for his home country of the Bahamas.

Wilson graduated from Texas in 2011. During his time on the 40 acres, he won All-Big 12 honors twice, and took second at the Penn Relays for high jump as a junior. He has only improved since graduating, and is one of only five Bahamians to ever clear 2.30 meters.