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Thompson short of finals

Greg Thiel was expecting a call from former USF hurdler Kemel Thompson on Tuesday night. Instead he found himself responding to Thompson’s defeat in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympics in Athens.

Thompson missed making the finals by one-hundredth of a second.

“As humble as Kemel is, he is going to think he’s disappointed us,” Thiel said of the former USF track standout.

But that is not the case, according to Thiel.

“I have mixed thoughts,” he said. “My heart goes out for him but we are so proud of him. I expect him to call tomorrow.”

Thompson finished fourth in his semi-final heat with a time of 48.25, behind Naman Keita of France (48.24), Bayano Kamani of Panama (48.23) and James Carter of the USA (48.18). The top three from the heat made the finals.

Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic had the fastest qualifying time of the three semi-final heats with a time of 47.93. Thompson finished ninth overall.

He won his first-round heat of the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 48.66. The 29-year-old Jamaican entered the Olympics ranked second in the world in the event by Track and Field news.

In the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Thompson fell less than one second short of earning a spot in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles. He finished fifth last year at the Track and Field World Championships.

He also had quite a collegiate career at USF, including a 1996 Conference USA championship in the 400m hurdles. He still holds or shares several USF records, including the fastest 400m hurdles time (50.50 seconds in 1996) and the fastest times in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays (41.10 and 3:10.38, respectively, both in 1996).