Charley narrowly misses finals at Olympic Trials

July 4, 2016

Vanderbilt All-American triple jumper Simone Charley fell just short of advancing to the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday in Eugene, Oregon.

Needing to finish among the top-12 to advance to the finals, Charley finished 13th with her top leap of 43-10.75 (13.38m). Lynnika Pitts, competing unattached, slipped past Charley into 12th place with a mark of 44-0.75 (13.48m) on her final attempt.

“It’s heartbreaking for Simone, of course, to be that close. But at the same time, this was a terrific experience for her,” said associate head coach Clark Humphreys, who made the trip with Charley. “We are so proud of her.”

Keturah Orji — the phenom from the University of Georgia — finished first with a leap of 46-6.

Orji, who earlier this season set the all-time record for Americans, was one of only two collegiates who advanced to the finals. The other was Bria Matthews of Georgia Tech, who finished 10th at 44-02.75. 

“The performance that Simone had today would have been good enough for her to advance to the finals in a collegiate setting,” said Humphreys. “But that’s what sets this (the trials) a part from other meets. You look at the results and you see that 10 of the top 12 spots belonged to non-collegiates.”

Charley produced an incredible six-week stretch heading into the trials, including claiming second-place finishes at both the SEC Championships and the NCAA Championships, finishing only behind Orji at both meets. Charley set a lifetime best with a leap of 45-02.25 at the national meet.

“She has had to be at her best, time and time again, over the past six weeks,” said Humphreys, “and in retrospect, you can’t help but wonder if maybe she was little low on gas today. I mean, she absolutely gave it all she had — like she always does. But she has been pushing herself so hard over the past six weeks, whereas the non-collegiates have been able to focus exclusively on the trials. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the way the system works.”

Humphreys said Charley was naturally disappointed by Monday’s outcome, but said she will be able to take away great memories from participating. 

“Just making it to the trials, all to itself, is a great accomplisment,” said Humphreys. “But, like any athlete worth their salt, Simone wasn’t happy just to be here. She wanted more.”

Charley will now turn her attention to her upcoming trip to El Salvador, where she will represent the U.S. at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Under-23 Championships.

“She’s excited to be representing the USA,” said Humphreys, “and again, we are just super proud of her and how she represents Vanderbilt.”