Tampa Bay Sports Day

FSU’s Kuijken, Brits Among Seven Track & Field Noles In Action Friday

Susan Kuijken, one of the most decorated distance runners is Florida State history, will jump-start the first of 10 consecutive days of track & field competition at the Rio Olympic Games in the 10,000-meter final, Friday morning at Olympic Stadium.

Kuijken is one of seven former Seminole stars – five of whom will make their Olympic debuts – competing Friday. A nine-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion during her FSU career (2006-2009), Kuijken will represent the Netherlands in both the 37-woman, 10,000-meter field, which will also mark the first track & field final of the Games.

The action will pick up during the evening session, when long jumper Stefan Brits, 1500-meter runners Linden Hall and Violah Lagat and 400-meter sprinters Alonzo Russell and twins Jonathan and Kevin Borlee all compete in qualifying round action.

Brits, one of four Olympians who competed for Florida State during the 2016 season, will make his Olympic debut in the long jump. Representing South Africa, the four-time All-American and FSU doctoral student in chemistry, will jump 14th in Group B of the trials, which are scheduled for 8:20 p.m.

From the field of 32 contestants – 16 in each group – Brits has an eye on a top-12 finish or an automatic qualifying mark of 8.15 meters (26-9) to earn a spot in Saturday’s final.

Hall and Lagat, like Kuijken a member of FSU’s women’s distance dynasty, are among 42 athletes competing in round 1 of 1500-meter qualifying. Hall, a three-time All-American at that distance during her FSU career (2012-2015), is ranked 10th in the world (4:01.78). Representing Australia, she will toe the starting line in the first of three preliminary heats, which is set for 7:30 p.m.

Lagat, a two-time All-American during her FSU career (2011-12), will run in the third heat (7:52 p.m.). Representing Kenya, Lagat is the younger sister of US Olympian Bernard Lagat. She comes into the Games with a season-best of 4:06 and a lifetime-best of 3:04.10.

FSU teammates in 2012, Hall and Lagat need to finish in the top six of their respective heats or post one of the next six fastest times, to advance to Sunday’s semifinals.

Russell makes his Olympic debut, representing the Bahamas, in Round 1 of the 400-meter dash. A four-time All-American for the Seminoles during his two seasons (2013-2014), he drew a lane 4 assignment in heat 3.

Joining Russell in the 400 are twins Jonathan and Kevin Borlee, who are competing in their third Olympic Games, representing Belgium.

Jonathan Borlee, who won NCAA titles in both the 400 and 4×400 relay for the Seminoles in 2009, will share the track with Russell in heat 3, where he has drawn lane 6. Kevin Borlee, a four-time All-American at FSU (2009-10), will get the 400 qualifying started in heat 1, racing out of lane 3.

The top three finishers in each of the seven 400-meter heats, plus the next three fastest times, will move on to Saturday’s semifinals.

In addition to the track & field Noles in action, Leticia Romero and Leo Rodriguez will lead Spain again Senegal in women’s basketball Friday at 4:45 p.m.