PRESS RELEASE, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
TAMPERE, Finland--Demonstrating the same grit under pressure she has shown throughout a breakout sophomore season, Florida State's Cortney Jones won the 100-meter hurdles bronze medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships, Sunday inside Ratina Stadium.
Chasing Tia Jones, her USA teammate and one-time high school rival, Cortney Jones pulled even for the lead at the eighth hurdle before her right hamstring gave way. Her subtle deceleration left Tia Jones as the champion at the line over Jamaica's Britany Anderson, with identical 13.01 times. Cortney held on for third in 13.19.
"Around hurdle seven I felt my hamstring start to grab, and hurdle eight is when I guess it pulled," Jones said. "I heard it pop. I just did the best I could to finish the race."
Draped in the American flag she joined her podium mates for photos; taken as trainers tended to a hamstring which has been nagging her throughout the season.
"It's pretty big deal to me when you can hurt yourself during the race, still finish the race and medal against the world's best," said Brandon Hon, FSU's director of sprints, hurdles & relays. "She got the start we were looking for and emphasized during the warm-ups. She put herself in position. The battle went back and forth and it was fun to watch. When she started to make her move to surge to the front she felt her hamstring pull and couldn't finish her rallying charge. She had a grit it out just to finish the race."
Jones' third-place finish marks the first World Junior Championship medal for an FSU woman since Teona Rodgers' 100-meter hurdles gold at Poland in 2008. It caps an amazing year for the Conyers, Ga. native, who missed all of fall training and underwent right knee surgery in October, then battled hamstring issues and a sore left knee throughout the seven-month season.
"I'm very proud of my accomplishments this season, from not having a fall training and having surgery, to placing at [NCAAs] both indoor and outdoor nationals," Jones said. "It's been an amazing experience, capping it off with my first international medal; the first of many.
"It's something I'm truly grateful for."
Jones piled up an awful lot of accolades in a seventh-month competitive span, following up a second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the ACC Indoor Championships by placing fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She set the FSU record in the final (8.02) to earn the first of three first-team All-American honors.
She was second again at the ACC Outdoor Championships, this time in the 100-meter hurdles, dipping below 13 seconds for the first time in a wind-aided 12.93. Two weeks later she qualified third out of the NCAA East Preliminaries, earning her second consecutive NCAA Championships appearance at the ripe age of 18. After placing 15th as a sophomore, Jones earned a spot in the finals with a lifetime-best of 12.86 in the preliminaries - the second-fastest time in FSU history - and followed with a bronze medal finish in a driving rainstorm.
And she also contributed a first-team All-American leg to FSU's 4x100 relay at Historic Hayward Field.
Jones secured her first USA national team spot at the University of Indiana, claiming silver at the USATF Junior Championships in 12.91; a one spot improvement over her 2017 finish. In the process, she beat Junior World record-holder Chantel Brissett out for the final spot on the team.
Hon marveled at Jones' progress and perseverance throughout a season when she lowered her personal-best from 13.06 to 12.86 in the 100-meter hurdles, after taking her 60-meter hurdles PB from 8.18 to 8.02.
"Cortney definitely learned how to fight through less than ideal situations, especially at championships time, which is very hard to do," Hon said. "The pressure is on. It's a one-shot deal. You don't get a best-of-seven series, so you have to be at your best no matter how you feel.
"She never makes an excuse and still finds a way to place high at championship time, when everything is on the line. Developing that mentality is what makes her great...It was a huge success this season. I couldn't be more proud of her."