EUGENE, Ore. - Before he competed in Saturday's shot put final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, the public-address announcer told the Hayward Field crowd that Garrett Johnson was a Rhodes Scholar.
After the former Tampa Baptist and Florida State track star failed to register a legal throw in the final, falling out of the ring three consecutive times, Johnson admitted it's hard to be both an academic and athletic superstar.
"That's a perfect world, but life is not always perfect," the 24-year-old said. "I was in Oxford for two years. No coach. No training partners. It rains pretty much every day in Oxford. It's not the best environment. I knew that going, but you just can't pass up the chance to attend Oxford."
Johnson plans to keep competing in the shot put.
"The strength is there, the power is there, but the timing was off," he said.
Gay Sets Mark In 100M; Demps Sets Prep Record
Tyson Gay almost didn't get the chance to do it, but when he did, he set the American record in the 100-meter dash. Recent Grove- land South Lake High graduate Jeff Demps set a national high school record in the event, while Brooksville's John Capel ran a season best in the 100 to reach today's semifinals.
Gay broke Maurice Greene's American mark in the 100 by running 9.77 seconds in his quarterfinal at the trials.
Demps was the runner-up in Gay's quarterfinal. He got out of the blocks a bit ahead of the favorite and wound up setting a national high school mark at 10.01. The previous record was 10.08, held by J-Mee Samuels, who now runs for Arkansas but failed to reach the semifinals of the 100.
Demps is headed to the University of Florida on a football scholarship, but if he makes the Olympic team, he might choose to redshirt his freshman season.
Demps was the Class 3A state champion this season in the 100 and last month won the BAYTAF Classic youth meet at Jefferson High.
Gay tied the fourth-fastest time in the history of the event, despite clearly easing up over his final few strides. He almost didn't escape the opening round when he eased up too soon and had to speed up again and lunge across the finish line in fourth place.
Three other Floridians advanced to the 100 semifinals - Walter Dix, the 2007 NCAA champion from FSU; Xavier Carter of Palm Bay; and Capel.
At 10.06, Capel was just the 11th qualifier in the 100-meter dash at the trials, almost .3 of a second behind Gay.
The U.S. contingent for the women's 100 was determined Saturday. The three roster spots went to Muna Lee in 10.85, and Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams of Miami, who both finished in 10.90.
Friday, Mike Morse, a sophomore at the University of South Florida, advanced to the finals of the men's long jump. The Freedom High graduate qualified with his effort of 25 feet, 6.75 inches.
Also Friday, Indiana native Amy Yoder-Begley, who won the women's 15-kilometer run at the 2003 Gasparilla Distance Classic, earned an Olympic berth by finishing third in the women's 10,000-meter run.