Georgia will hold a send-off luncheon on Monday for the members of the UGA track & field men’s and women’s teams who will be competing in next week’s NCAA Indoor Championships. World record holder and three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee will speak to the fourteen Bulldog qualifiers.
Georgia’s qualifiers are scheduled to fly to College Station, Texas, on Wednesday in preparation for the NCAA Championships on Friday and Saturday (March 10-11). The second-ranked Lady Bulldogs are traveling seven competitors and have finished third at the last three NCAA Indoor Championships. The fifth-ranked Georgia men also have seven qualifiers and are in search of their third top-20 national indoor finish since 2013.
Joyner-Kersee, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., is a UCLA graduate and two-time NCAA heptathlon champion for the Bruins while also serving as a four-year starter on UCLA’s basketball team. The three-time Track & Field News World Athlete of the Year owns the world record in the heptathlon (7,291, 1988 Olympics) and has won six medals, including three golds, over four Olympic Games between 1984 and 1996.
Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou has guided his teams to seven NCAA combined event titles since 2014 and they come into next week’s NCAAs with the top-ranked pentathlete (senior Kendell Williams) and heptathlete (senior Devon Williams). Kyprianou is hoping Joyner-Kersee’s message further inspires the Bulldogs on Texas A&M’s campus next week.
“I am thrilled that Jackie has accepted our invitation to come and speak to our teams prior to us heading to College Station for the NCAA meet,” said Kyprianou about Joyner-Kersee, who Sports Illustrated named the World’s Greatest Female Athlete. “She is one of my athletic heroes and someone who I have admired and looked up to my whole life. Jackie has a very moving story and her life and career are things that I feel our young men and women could learn from. Our team members will hopefully be able to set their standards higher and learn to overcome adversity with help from her talk.
“Jackie can relate and speak to our athletes about teams like ours, who are like a little David, going up against Goliath, who are the powerhouses of Oregon and Arkansas. I feel like the whole team has a lot to learn from a winner like that. This is another step toward my goal of changing the culture of a team to one that appreciates everything without excuses or shallow thinking. It is truly a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog!”
Devon Williams and junior Karl Saluri will start the NCAA Championships for Georgia in the heptathlon at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, March 10. Kendell Williams and freshman Louisa Grauvogel will begin their pentathlon at 1:15 p.m.