Donning the Black and Gold in front of a national television audience on NBC, sophomore sprinter Aurieyall Scott gave UCF a sense of pride and momentum going into the 2012-2013 athletic year.
With the U.S. Olympic Trials taking place during the past month, the rosters for the various national teams are taking shape. Athletes with experience on the most elite of stages are back in familiar territory, often easily advancing and qualifying for their next Olympic challenge.
But, for some like Scott, just inserting themselves among the conversation of professionals and past Olympians is an achievement and an important career step.
Scott was the only Knight (of four) who advanced to the finals in her event during the track & field trials in Eugene, Ore. After placing fourth (seventh-fastest time overall) in the 200-meter semifinals with her personal-best time of 22.56 on Friday, Scott earned a chance to become UCF’s first track Olympian.
Scott was one of the eight finalists, of whom the top-three performers would make the Olympic team.
At roughly 9:50 p.m. Saturday night, on a television in almost every sports bar in the country, Scott wore the UCF logo. As a student here and a sports fan, seeing Scott take her place in lane two among some of our generation’s greatest athletes was an exciting and anxious moment.
Scott was just one of two collegiate athletes to make it to the finals in the 200-meters. As the runners were introduced and cameras panned onto Scott, an NBC commentator noted how valuable this could be for one UCF standout sprinter, who had already had a great season.
Scott found herself up against world champion Carmelita Jeter, Olympic gold-medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, as well as the new fastest woman in the world, Allyson Felix, but with a roster spot coming down to just one race, I held hope that the unpredictable would happen.
Felix, Richards-Ross and Jeter, as could be expected, were the top three finishers that will move on to London. All seven of the women Scott competed with rank among the world’s wind-legal top 10 this year.
Even in defeat, Scott set an all-time school record in the 200-meter dash and maintained utmost composure next to some of the best in the world. She also ran a personal best 22.68 (+1.0) to top the school record she set in Thursday’s preliminary round.
Scott and her UCF teammates leave Oregon with disappointment, sure, but also with a motivation that cannot be taught.
It can only be experienced.
In one of the most successful years in the track & field’s team history, head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert knows her athletes have tasted competition in their sport’s highest level and the will to push beyond what they have accomplished this year will be fervent.
Scott didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team, and that’s OK. Saturday night was a moment for Knights fans to be proud. With the direction this program has taken, there’s really no reason to think Smith Gilbert’s program won’t produce an Olympian or two the next time around in 2016.