Richmond edged McKinney with jump in July

Updated: August 10, 2004, 12:13 PM ET
Associated Press

Long jumper Rose Richmond had some fast packing to do after getting last-minute notification that she'd be on the U.S. Olympic team.

Richmond placed fourth in last month's Olympic trials, her 21-6¼ leaving her a half-inch behind Akiba McKinney. But she knew that McKinney would have to meet the qualifying standard of 21-11¾ to ensure herself a place on the team.

McKinney's last chance to do so was Sunday in Germany's three-nation Team Challenge, where she finished more than a foot short.

Richmond, meanwhile, made a jump of 22-2¼ on July 24 at a meet in Carson, Calif., and that was enough to get her on the team when McKinney's attempt failed.

"It's been pretty crazy, hectic, nerve-racking," she said of the nearly month-long wait to find out if she'd represent the United States in Athens. She leaves on Tuesday, joining Marion Jones and Grace Upshaw in the event.

Richmond, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native and 2003 Indiana graduate, worried that her Olympic dream had ended at the trials in Sacramento, Calif., because of what she describes now as an anxiety attack.

Richmond said her heart raced, she was breathing heavily and she felt dizzy. The result was a less-than-stellar performance, with her best jumps wiped out by fouls.

She continued her training regimen and quickly entered the Carson meet -- then she spent the next couple of weeks anxiously scanning the Internet for results on McKinney's attempts to meet the Olympic standard.

When her coach called Sunday night, Richmond was ecstatic. By Monday, when it was official, she could hardly stop talking.

"I knew I had it in me because I saw a lot of good things happening at the trials -- I just fouled," Richmond said. "That's the first time I ever had anything like that happen. It's the first and last time."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press