(Photo by Kerron Clement)
It's great to be a Florida Gator. I said it's great to be a Florida Gator. Really. Just ask current UF standouts T.J. Holmes (pictured above) and Eric Futch, as well as Olympic gold medalist and alumni Kerron Clement. The trio advanced through the first round of the 400m hurdles and will compete in the semi-finals on Monday.
"It actually feels like a normal meet," Holmes described his first senior international meet. "I would of thought that I would be nervous competing on the big stage, but it's not anything that I haven't done before. I think running at the Olympic Trials and USA championships definitely got me prepared for this moment ahead of time."
Holmes won his heat in 49.35 to advance to the semifinals. His time was the fourth fastest overall and puts him in a good spot for Monday's race. He won't be the only Gator out there. Olympic gold medalist Kerron Clement won his heat, and another training partner Eric Futch, the 2017 NCAA champion, qualified on time.
"I'm really great friends with Kerron and Eric," Holmes said. "We train together everyday so seeing them work hard pushes me to also want to do the same. We make sure each other stays on top of our game and we don't let each other slack."
A 2013 graduate of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, Holmes was the 300m hurdle state champion as a senior. At the University of Florida, he was most recently 6th at NCAA's in the 400m hurdles and was runner-up in 2016. He made Team USA after finishing third at the USA Championships.
"The semifinals will be a little harder, and in the finals you've got to go all-out," he explained. "I'm excited to be back here at my sixth world championship. It makes me seem really old, but these young guys really motivate me to keep running fast and get on my game."
"For me, winning the Olympics was motivation to come to the World Championships and do the same thing," Clement said. "I have the confidence, plus I'm peaking at the right time."