The Morgan State connection of Jack Pierce and Rochelle Stevens took the first step toward winning Olympic medals yesterday, advancing to the semifinals of their respective events.
Pierce ran the fastest qualifying time in the quarterfinals of the men's 110-meter hurdles (13.17 seconds). Stevens ran the third-fastest time in the quarterfinals of the women's 400-meter run (50.70). Both competed for the Golden Bears.
Pierce, 29, must now prepare for tonight's 110-meter hurdle semifinals and finals. Canada's Mark McKoy (13.27), Germany's Florian Schwarthoff (13.31) and Pierce's U.S. teammate Tony Dees (13.31) were the next fastest qualifiers.
"I feel any of six finalists who run under 13.17 seconds are capable of getting the gold," Pierce said. "It's a matter of who is running better that day, who is the most ready."
Stevens, 25, will compete in the women's 400-meter semifinals today; the final will be Wednesday.
Colombia's Restrepo Gaviria (50.63) and the Unified Team's Olga Bryzgina (50.68) were the fastest qualifiers.
"I wanted to run fast, but relax, stay under control and qualify," Stevens said. "I'm very excited, and I'm looking forward to the next two rounds."