Wells is the first Hampton University athlete to medal at Olympics
LONDON — — Kellie Wells gained the redemption she’s been seeking for four years.
It took her only 12.48 seconds to get it.
After having to be carried off the track in 2008 after suffering a hamstring injury at the trials, Wells rebounded in 2012 to earn Olympic bronze, claiming third in the 100-meter hurdles Tuesday in 12.48 seconds.
She is the first Hampton University athlete to medal in the Olympics.
Australia’s Sally Pearson, who was the favorite entering Tuesday’s final, claiming the gold medal with a wire-to-wire win in 12.35 seconds, an Olympic record.
American Dawn Harper, who won gold in the event in 2008, earned silver in 12.37 seconds. U.S. teammate Lolo Jones placed fourth in 12.58.
“I had a long wait for this but it was definitely worth every day of it,” Wells said. “I’ve had my great moments; I’ve had some tough times, too. It’s made me a better athlete and a better person. An Olympic medal caps it all.”
She doesn’t quite have the actual bronze medal in her possession yet — the medal ceremony is Wednesday — but she had kind words for her home state.
“Hello, Virginia. … Thanks for helping me get here.”
Wells’ run of tough luck began in 2008 when she was carried out of Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., with a ruptured tendon in her right hamstring at the Olympic Trials.
Her run of tough luck continued at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. After qualifying impressively in 12.79, she was on pace to win a medal in the final — until she clipped the sixth hurdle, ran into the seventh, and bowed out of the race as she saw medals go to Pearson (12.28), and Americans Danielle Carruthers and Harper (both at 12.47).
Wells’ fortunes turned in 2012.
She used meets in Florida, Italy, Belgium, South Korea and Qatar as warm-ups for the USA Olympic Trials in late June in Eugene, where she erased memories of the 2008 trials disaster with a 12.77 second-place performance, just behind Harper’s 12.73.
Tuesday’s Olympic semifinals were the perfect prep for the medal final two hours later. Pearson led the way in her semi at 12.39; Harper took her semi in a personal-best 12.46 and Wells impressed, taking the third semi in 12.51, her best this year and just 1/100th shy of her best-ever 12.50.
Wells ran 3/100ths faster in the medal-round race.
Harper and Pearson went gone 1-2 at Beijing in 2008, but reversed places this time around. Harper and Wells ran their personal bests, and Jones’ time was her fastest this year.
By: | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Published: August 06, 2012
Defending world champion Dawn Harper, American teammate Lolo Jones and world champion Sally Pearson cruised into the semifinals of the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday, then found themselves trying to console a longtime rival.
Britain’s Tiffany Porter and American rival Kellie Wells also advanced. Wells beat Pearson early this season.
“I’m feeling great,” said Wells, a graduate of James River High School and Hampton University. “Training has been good, life has been good. I have no stress, no drama, just hit 30. I’m feeling great, so everything’s good.”
Jones and Pearson won their respective heats, while Harper eased up near the line and finished second in hers. Pearson had the quickest time in the six heats, covering the distance in 12.57 seconds — the fastest first-round time in Olympic history.
Jamaica’s Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who had the second-fastest time in the world in women’s hurdles this season, failed to advance. She hit the fifth hurdle in her heat, veered toward the inside lane, got off stride and never recovered. She threw herself to the ground after crossing the finish line, slapped the track surface, let out a loud scream, started crying and then brushed aside Jones’ attempt to console her.
“The emotions were just outpouring from her,” said Jones, who was in the same heat as Foster-Hylton. “Even if she would have punched me, I totally would have understood.”
Pearson wrapped her arm around Foster-Hylton as she left the track, but that did little to stop the tears.
London was Foster-Hylton’s fourth Olympics, and the best female hurdler in Jamaica was hoping to end up on the podium for the first time. She finished eighth in Sydney and sixth in Beijing. Seeing her Olympic quest end like that was difficult for fellow competitors who expected her to make the final.
“It was really hard,” Pearson said. “She’s trained with me for a long time. Rough sport.”
Foster-Hylton’s mistake was a rare one for Jamaican sprinters, who have done little wrong in London. Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake swept the top two spots in the men’s 100-meter final Sunday night. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold in the women’s 100, while Veronica Campbell-Brown got bronze.
Even without Foster-Hylton and Britain’s Jessica Ennis — who pulled out of the hurdles after winning gold in the grueling, two-day heptathlon — the field remains strong.
“I know it’s going to come down to a lean,” Harper said. “No one’s going to run away with it. It’s going to be good. I want the competition.”
In other preliminary events Monday, world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya and American Nick Symmonds were among those who advanced to the semifinals in the men’s 800. World champion Jenny Simpson of the United States needed a late push to advance in the women’s 1,500. Fellow American Morgan Uceny also advanced.
Simpson decided to avoid the bumping and banging near the front of the pack, but found herself out of position down the stretch.
“Oh my gosh, I hope people wanted to see my miracle kick,” said Simpson, who claimed the sixth and final qualifying spot in her heat. “It was really physical up front and I didn’t want to be involved in this mess. Then with 200 meters to go, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to make something happen or this is going to be over.’ The last 100 meters, I put my head down and didn’t let up until 5 feet after the line.
“I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever leaned at the line.”
Kellie Wells advances in 100-meter hurdles
By: | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Published: August 06, 2012
Watch Kellie talk about making the Olympics here
so today is the day between mother’s day and the anniversary of my mother’s death. Its so crazy how close the 2 fall this year, so I wanted to write to share my feelings with you guys. I have made so much of my personal life public and some may feel its for attention, and that’s fine with me, but I honestly want to inform people of their decisions and how it can affect others for the rest of their lives. Sometimes we don’t think about what we do and how it can cause ripples in time for so many people and that’s some awareness I would love to bring to people’s attention…..
Thirteen years later I am a woman. I can say that now because I feel as if I have arrived in a very good place. I have spoken about her, how wonderful she was, what an impact she had on me and how all of the wonderful traits I have are because of her. She taught me how to cook, clean, sew, shop, to run and how to dance. She was amazing in so many ways. I watched her work 2 jobs, go to school, raise 3 kids and manage a household all at the same time and never complained about it. I can’t begin to explain her and how she did it all…
recently i did an interview with NBC that was a lot of fun and touching all at the same time. Every interview I have done recently always wants to know about my personal life as well as the success i’ve had on the track so it’s always interesting to see how the media comes at me. In this one particular interview I was asked “if you had 5 minutes with your mom what would you say to her?” and that question has stuck with me for weeks….. So it inspired me to write this….
I wish i could tell her how much i love her
I wish i could tell her i’m so sorry for leaving her in that house… with that man….
I wish i could tell her i’m not mad at her nor do i harbor any negative feelings towards her at all….
I wish she could rub my hair and I could talk to her about this man I love and get her motherly advice….
I wish she could have been at my graduations because education was so important to her….
I wish she could have seen how beautiful she was and how strong she was and what she had to offer….
I wish she could have seen my brother, my sister, and my nephew grow up and what they have become and are becoming.
I wish she were here… I wish that everyday…. I miss her everyday, every moment….
I wish so much… I could go on for hours about the things I wish with her and what could have been different. But…if things would have turned out different, I wonder would I be here. I wonder would I be in this position to inspire so many people and to try to help so many women and young girls fight against the rage… the rage that may be inside them and the rage that comes from someone else.
In my mother’s car accident, it was a 2 car accident. There was the car she was a passenger in where she and Richard Gomes both died, and then the car he hit head on…. there were two people in that car as well…. one died… his name was tommy, and then the passenger lived. Recently I got an email from the parents of Tommy and it was like I flew back 13 years and I was that young confused girl all over again. They took time to recount the accident and fill in so many holes and so many questions i had about that night. They had the passengers knowledge of what he saw in the accident and none of us really knew what went down. It was such a wonderful email to get because they celebrated Tommy just as i celebrate Jeanette (that’s my mother’s name… lovely isn’t it?!) They told me how they took to running to deal with his death just as I had immersed myself in track. They shared feelings that I thought I was alone in… so it was a pleasure to know that I had this bond with this family for 13 years without even knowing them. When I go back to Richmond after the season this year… I am planning on meeting them!
I have chosen to open myself to the world. I have made the conscious choice to share my heart, soul, mind and life with everyone. Like it or don’t… that’s completely up to you. I have never claimed to be some saint or some angel… but what i do proclaim is freedom. Freedom from the hurts and wrongs that were done to myself, mother, siblings, and family. I do NOT blame some of my poor choices on what happened to me… I am not my past… but I have learned not to judge anyone if you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes…. and most times… people don’t need judgement, they need help, love, open arms, and guidance, and if I can be that for someone , I’m ok with it.
So in writing all of this… if i had just five minutes with my mom, what would I say?? The answer would be… probably nothing. I would just want to be there with her… feel her spirit. enjoy her presence, her scent, and maybe… just maybe hear her tell me she loved me or just to hear her say my name. As i get older and I close my eyes… her voice becomes more and more faint to me. I can barely remember what she sounds like…. so yes… that it…. my five minutes with her…
Thanks for reading…..
Early Saturday Morning the world suffered a great loss when John C. Yarbrough died in a tragic car accident and his brought her Linnie Yarbrough suffered major injuries due to the same accident. Anyone that knows anything about me knows I lost my mother in a tragic car accident so this really touches my soul greatly. The family has set up a fund to help pay their tremendous hospital bills and I would love if everyone would pitch in to help them out. I remember when people helped out my family in our time of need and I want to have the same impact on someone else.
The link is https://www.wepay.com/donations/154223
Thanks in advance!
In a year that likely will represent her best shot at becoming an Olympic hurdler, Kellie Wells came home Friday to Chesterfield County, where she has already overcome plenty of hurdles.
Wells laughed often and drew cheers throughout an upbeat, 40-minute presentation to several hundred students at James River High School, where she became the Rapids’ first individual state champion.
“It’s crazy to think I’m back in the place where it all started,” said Wells, who now lives and trains full time in Orlando, Fla., as she prepares for the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June in Eugene, Ore.
While Wells and her athletic accomplishments remain the focus of her youth in Chesterfield, she recently revealed a dark chapter from her childhood.
Wells blogged last summer that while she was a teen, her mother’s fiancé, Richard “Rick” Gomes, abused her mother, Jeanette Wells, and Wells. Wells also said Gomes raped her when she was 16.
Gomes was never charged with any offenses related to the allegations. In May 1999, several weeks after Wells said the rape occurred, Gomes, 38, was killed in a car crash on Old Bon Air Road in Chesterfield. Jeanette Wells, 43, also died, as did Thomas F. Kenney IV, 20.
Wells mentioned the alleged abuse during her talk Friday and urged the students to persevere.
“I could have given up,” said Wells, who added that much of the credit for her finishing her James River career on a high note — and earning an athletic scholarship to Hampton University — went to Vatel Dixon, the Rapids’ track coach.
“He saw a light in me that … I didn’t see in myself,” she said. “If you give yourself 100 percent, there’s always somebody there to help you.”
As Wells spoke, Dixon stood off to the side, occasionally rubbing his reddened eyes. Afterward, he shook his head frequently and seemed to still be fighting tears.
“She’s kind of like my daughter,” he said. “I always get the call. She always thinks of me. We’ve shared a lot of wonderful times together. We’ve shared a lot of tears together.”
Dixon said he was devastated when he read Wells’ blog last summer. The two have not discussed her writings, and Dixon doesn’t plan to ask her.
“It just hurt me tremendously,” he said. “Don’t want to talk about it.”
Instead, he’d rather focus on the positive aspects of her life, including her bid to represent the United States at the London Olympics. Wells was a serious contender to make the U.S. team in 2008 but was derailed by a serious hamstring injury.
She has been successful in the U.S. and abroad in recent months and is a favorite to earn one of the U.S. roster spots in Eugene. If she qualifies, she will turn 30 before the London Games start — a relatively advanced age for track and field athletes.
Dixon has been telling Wells since she was a teenager at James River that she had Olympic talent.
“Coach Dixon always said it,” she said, “but I never believed it. Now it’s so close.”
Regardless of whether it happens, Wells already has an eye to the future. She is laying the groundwork to start a nonprofit foundation for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
“Hopefully,” she said, “by the time I’m finished, that will be my job.”
In an era of egomaniacal and pampered athletes, I had the privilege of chatting with Kellie Wells the other day. Kellie is an incredibly humble and intelligent person and also happens to be the reigning U.S. women’s indoor and outdoor hurdling champion. She placed third in the 50 meter hurdles January 28 at the 2012 U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden.
I had intended to speak with Kellie, who looks forward to representing the U.S. at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, about the challenges of competing while generating enough income and sponsorship money to fund her training and travel.
We do discuss a little business (Nike is her primary sponsor) but the force of her personality and message is clearly how she overcame abuse growing up and has used the strength she gained from that to persevere through a bad hamstring injury in 2007 and help young women pursue their dreams.
Read the article at Forbes.