SACRAMENTO, CA - Shameka Marshall (Mitzpah, NJ), the Rutgers University record-holder in the long jump, was slowed by a strained hamstring at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday night and finished in 20th place in the long jump.
The second jumper to compete in the preliminaries, Marshall’s initial effort took place immediately after world-renowned athlete Marion Jones made her first jump. In a jump that was seen on national television on the USA Network, Marshall leaped 6.13 m (20-1 ½) in her first attempt but strained her left hamstring upon landing. She subsequently jumped 6.12m and 6.09m to place 20th out of 24 competitors (the top 12 move on to the finals and the top three overall qualify for the U.S. Olympic team).
For Marshall, her appearance in the U.S. Olympic Trials capped a remarkable breakout season as she was the first Rutgers women’s track and field athlete to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials since Desiree Scott, who was a 1988 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 3000m and 5000m. The BIG EAST and ECAC Champion in the long jump, Marshall now plans on taking some well-deserved time off before focusing on her senior season at Rutgers.
Marshall, who finished in 13th place at the NCAA Championships in Austin, TX last month, broke her own school record by hitting the U.S. Olympic qualifying mark of 21-4 (her previous personal best was 20-10 ½ at the BIG EAST Championships in May) in a USA Track and Field qualifying meet at The College of New Jersey on June 22.
Marshall is also a standout in the 100-meter hurdles and was the 2004 BIG EAST champion in that event as well. Her time of 13.52 in the 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA Regionals in May established a school record.
While most top-flight women’s long jumpers stand between 5’-5” and 5’-10” in height, Marshall achieves record-setting results despite being 5’-0” tall, which places her at a major disadvantage when competing against taller athletes. Undaunted, Marshall has emerged as one of the nation’s best long jumpers and her future in the sport appears boundless.
“Shameka had a phenomenal year,” said Rutgers assistant women’s track coach James Robinson, who coaches the Scarlet Knights’ jumpers and hurdlers. “This was truly a breakout year for her as she proved to be one of the top jumpers on both the collegiate scene and the national level. She maximizes every bit of talent she has in her body.”
After what she hopes is a terrific senior season, Marshall will set her sights on competing in the 2005 World Championships and potentially making another run at the Olympic Games in 2008.