Sept. 29, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia - Former Sooners Danny McFarlane and Michael Blackwood were key to the Jamaican effort today at the Olympic Games in the 1600-meter relay. Both ran in the first round, leading Jamaica to a victory in its heat with a time of 3:03.85, then the pair ran the last two legs of the relay in the semifinal. In the semifinal, Jamaica finished with a 2:58.84, second to the Americans 2:58.78. The final for the 1600-meter is the final event on the track and is set for 10:20 p.m. Sydney time.

McFarlane ran the third leg in the semifinal while Blackwood ran the anchor leg, just as he did last season for the Sooners. In the semifinal, the Sooner duo was joined by Sanjay Ayre and Gregory Haughton, a bronze medalist in the 400. In the first round, Michael McDonald led off the relay followed by Blackwood, Ayre and McFarlane.

The U.S. relay ran without gold medalist Michael Johnson but he is expected to join the relay for the final on Saturday. The American relay in both races Friday included Jerome Young, Angelo Taylor, Calvin Harrison and Alvin Harrison.

Jamaica will be in lane 6 to start the final. The US will be in lane 5 with Nigeria, the winner of the second semifinal, in lane 4. Five of the top eight times in the semifinal were posted in the heat one. The Bahamas finished third in heat 1 followed by France and Poland, which advanced to the final based on time. The top three finishers in the second heat were Nigeria, Great Britian and Australia. The top three in each semifinal advanced to Saturdays final.

McFarlane finished eighth earlier this week in the final of the 400-meter dash at the Olympic Games.

The Jamaican relay team has been picked by Track and Field News as a potential silver medalist and the Olympic News Service predicts Jamaica, Poland and South Africa will battle it out for the silver and bronze medals. The U.S. relay is an overwhelming favorite for the gold.

McFarlane, who last competed for OU in 1997, was an eight-time All-American for the Sooners and was a member of the Sooners indoor 1600-meter relay national champion in 1997. Competing as a member of the Jamaican National team, he earned a silver medal on the 4 x 400-meter relay at the 1995 World Championships, a bronze at the 1997 World Championships and a bronze at the 1999 World Championships, both as a member of the 1600-meter relay. He also competed for Jamaica in the 1993 World Championships as a member of the 1600-meter relay.

Blackwood and McFarlane continue a long tradition of Sooner track and field athletes who have competed in the Olympics. Tom Churchill was the first Sooner in track and field to compete in an Olympic Games when he represented the U.S. in the decathlon in the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. Other Sooner track and field Olympians include Glenn Dawson, steeplechase, 1932, Los Angeles, and 1936 Berlin, Neville Price, Great Britain, broad jump, 1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne, Mike Lindsay, shot put, 1960 Rome, Noel Berkeley, Ireland, 10,000 meters, 1992 Barcelona, Jason Rouser, gold medal, 4 x 400-meter relay, 1996 Atlanta, and Roxbert Martin, Jamaica, bronze medal, 4 x 400-meter relay and sixth in the 400, 1996 Atlanta. Martin also has the fastest split in Olympic history for Jamaica with a 43.81 in 1996.