Sept. 18, 2000

NORMAN, Okla-- Danny McFarlane and Michael Blackwood, two former University of Oklahoma sprinters, were among the athletes who participated in the opening ceremonies of the 27th Olympic Games Friday in Sydney, Australia. McFarlane and Blackwood are among the 57 athletes who are representing Jamaica.

Both are listed as entries in the 400-meter dash and as members of the 4 x 400-meter relay. The competition in the open 400 will begin on Friday with first-round action. There will be eight heats in the first round. Each team is allowed to enter three athletes in the individual sprints. Blackwood and McFarlane are among the four currently listed as competitors for Jamaica. A final declaration of the three who will compete will be made on Tuesday.

McFarlane's career best in the 400 is 44.90 and he has run a best of 45.26 this season. Blackwood ran his career- and season-best 44.69 in the final of the Big 12 Championships in May. He won the conference title with that mark. The mark stood as the best in the world for nearly four weeks. It currently ranks as the 15th best time and he is the seventh best individual in the world performance lists heading into the Olympic Games.

The other possible entries in the 400 for Jamaica are Davian Clarke, who has a career best mark of 44.87 and a season best of 45.24, and Gregory Haughton, whose career mark is 44.56 and season best is 44.88. Current Sooner co-head coach, Rodney Price, coached Clarke at the University of Miami before coming to OU. Price recruited Blackwood to OU and former Sooner coach J.D. Martin continues to coach McFarlane.

The rest of the schedule for the 400 calls for four heats in the second round to be run on Saturday, Sept. 23, the semifinals on Sunday, Sept. 24, and the final is set for Monday, Sept. 25.

Three of the four listed in the 400, Blackwood, McFarlane and Haughton, are also listed on the 4 x 400-meter relay. Other possible relay participants for Jamaica include Sanjay Ayre, Michael McDonald and Brandon Simpson. The latest issue of Track and Field News ranks the Jamaican relay in second behind the United States quartet. Both Blackwood and McFarlane are include on the predicted silver medal-winning relay and the prediction indicates that "Jamaica has the horses to move up from its third-place finish in 1996." Other potential medal-winning squads, according to T&F News, are Great Britain and South Africa. There will be five heats in the first round of the relay which will be run on Friday, Sept. 29. The semifinals in the 4 x 400 are set for later that day with the final set for Saturday, Sept. 30, as the final event on the track of the Games.

McFarlane finished second and Blackwood was fourth in the 400-meter dash at the Jamaican Olympic Trials held in July at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

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 completed his Sooner career last spring. He earned All-America honors in 1999 on the indoor 1600-meter relay and added All-America honors last season in the outdoor 400 and as a member of the indoor and outdoor 1600-meter relays. Blackwood was a member of the Jamaican 1600-meter relay team that took the bronze at the 1998 Goodwill Games.

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.