Cullen Jones secures spot in Olympics
A lifelong dream has come true for former North Carolina State University Wolfpack swimmer and 2006 NCAA Champion Cullen Jones. A third-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Swim Team Trials on Thursday, July 3, punched Jones ticket to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as a representative of the red, white and blue.“Cullen is a two-time national champion and a world record holder, but this eclipses all of those accomplishments,” said N.C. State head coach Brooks Teal, who was alongside Jones at the trials. “He’s a Olympian now and that’s something he will carry with him for the rest of his life.“N.C. State is extremely proud of him, and I know that the entire Wolfpack nation is behind him all the way.”The achievement makes Jones the second former Wolfpack swimmer to grab a spot on an Olympic roster for the upcoming Summer Games. In addition to Jones, Dan Velez will represent Puerto Rico.
The two join a lengthy list of former State swimmers in the Olympics, including gold medalists David Fox (U.S.A.), Duncan Goodhew (Great Britain) and Steve Rerych (U.S.A.).With a 48.35 time Jones placed behind Garrett Weber-Gale (47.92) and Jason Lezak (48.05) in the event finals. Nathan Adrian placed fourth with a 48.46. The top four finishers each lock up a spot on the American roster.On Wednesday, Jones posted back-to-back personal best times in the preliminaries and semifinals before guaranteeing his roster spot Thursday evening.
Already the first African-American to hold a world record in long-course swimming, Jones becomes just the third African-American swimmer in the history of the U.S. Olympic squad.Jones will compete in the 50-meter freestyle, his signature event Friday, with the finals set for Saturday.