Former Bulldog All-American Garrett Scantling finished as the top American decathlon finisher in fourth and former Georgia seven-time NCAA champion Kendell Williams took fifth in the heptathlon in Tokyo, Japan, at the Olympics on Thursday.
In addition to the two combined event highlights, former UGA All-American Charles Grethen (Luxembourg) advanced to the 1500 meter final while former Lady Bulldog NCAA champion Lynna Irby (USA) was part of the 4x400m relay team that secured a spot in the final.
This was the seventh of 10 days of track and field events (Athletics) as the Games continue.
As the competitors cooled off following the decathlon 1500m, Scantling was in fourth place with 8,611 points five years after he was fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and Estonians Johannes Erm (11th – 8,213), Maicel Uibo (15th – 8,037) and Karel Tilga (20th – 7,018) rounded out the other four current or Bulldogs competing in the event.
Seventeenth in the heptathlon at the 2016 Games, Williams scored 6,508 points this year and took fifth overall as the top American finisher. With the gold, silver and bronze finishers all spread out about 100 points, Williams finished 63 points from fourth and 82 from the bronze medal spot. She completed her seven events by completing her 800m laps in 2:16.91, which has been a familiar finish time that he has hovered around during her lengthy career.
A native of Marietta, Ga., Williams was a seven-time NCAA champion for the Lady Bulldogs between 2014-17, including becoming the first woman in collegiate history to win four NCAA titles in the single event (pentathlon). The former collegiate record holder was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Year three times and still owns six of the 10 best collegiate pentathlon scores in history. The 2017 SEC Female Athlete of the Year and Honda Award winner is at her second Olympics.
In the second to last event of the decathlon, Scantling launched a season-best effort of 69.10 meters (226 feet, 8 inches) in the javelin to keep his pace. He never slowed down in the 10th event as he registered a personal record of 4:35.54 in the 1500m to take eighth out of the 21 racers.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Scantling won the 2021 U.S. Trials and punched his ticket to Tokyo. Temporarily retiring from the sport at the 2016 Trials, starting a career as a financial analyst and even having a stint with the Atlanta Falcons as a receiver before restarting his training in 2019, Scantling finished in the top three in the heptathlon at three separate NCAA Indoor Championships and was fourth in the decathlon at the 2014 NCAA outdoor meet. He also won a record-setting three SEC heptathlon titles as a Bulldog.
Erm built to a third throw of 58.41m (191-7) in the javelin as his 10 events continued. He completed his first Games in fine fashion, clocking a personal record in the 1500m (4:28.42) and taking third overall in the event.
A native of Tallinn, Estonia, Erm captured the 2019 NCAA decathlon championship and is the No. 7 all-time collegiate performer in the decathlon. The five-time All-American has won a pair of SEC titles and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American in addition. Erm is expected to return for his final year as a Bulldog in 2021-22 after sitting out the 2021 season with an injury. He is at his first Olympics.
Uibo took only a single throw in the javelin and it measured 50.64m (166-10). He completed his second Games with a 4:38.64 in the 1500m.
A native of Polva, Estonia, Uibo was a four-time SEC champion in the multi-events for the Bulldogs, collected a pair of NCAA decathlon titles and was a six-time First Team All-American, including a runner-up finish in the heptathlon at the 2014 NCAA indoor meet. The 2015 SEC Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year remains the No. 6 all-time collegiate performer in the decathlon with a score of 8,356. He is at his second Olympics.
Situated as the only Bulldog in his group, Tilga won the javelin with a personal record of 73.36m (240-8) on his third and final attempt. He finished one spot behind Scantling in the 1500m with a 4:35.64.
A native of Tartu, Estonia, Tilga became the third competitor in history to sweep the NCAA heptathlon and decathlon titles in 2021 with school record scores. He topped teammate Kyle Garland the indoor national championship in the heptathlon with the second-best score in NCAA history (6,264 points). Tilga then became the No. 2 all-time collegiate performer in the decathlon outdoors after tallying 8,484 points on the Spec Towns Track in Athens during the regular season. He is at his first Olympics and is expected to be back in the red and black this coming year.
Grethen, who was 38th in the 800m at the 2016 Olympics, punched his ticket to the 1500m final by tallying the last time qualifier in his semifinal round. He set a national record with his mark of 3:32.86 after taking seventh in the second group.
A native of Tuntange, Luxembourg, Grethen was an All-American in the 800m for the Bulldogs in 2015 Starting his career at Texas State before transferring to Georgia prior to the 2013 season, Grethen clocked a top time of 1:47.22 in the 800m during his time in red and black. He is at his second Olympics.
Irby has already won hardware in Tokyo, running on the third-place mixed 4x400m relay team along with current Bulldog Elija Godwin. Now, she will have a shot at another medal since her American women’s 4x400m relay squad won their heat and had the fastest qualifying time with a 3:20.86. Irby’s anchor leg registered a 50.34 as Team USA will now line up in the final at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Irby is the No. 3 collegiate performer all-time in the outdoor 400m after she registered a 49.80 to win the 2018 NCAA title. Third in the 400m at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships to help the women secure their first national team championship, Irby is the No. 6 all-time collegiate performer indoors after she registered a 50.62 to take second in the 400m at the 2018 SEC meet. She is at her first Olympics.
Battling to advance to the pole vault final during her first trip to the Games, American Morgann Leleux made three attempts at 4.50m (14-9) in the final and ended her competition on Thursday morning. She was one of only two Americans to make the 15-woman field for the final. The other Team USA member was Katie Magette, who won gold with a 16-0.75 clearance and who earlier in the season won the Torrin Lawrence Memorial in Athens.
A native of New Iberia, La., Leleux was a three-time SEC champion and five-time All-American in the pole vault for the Lady Bulldogs during 2012-15. Overcoming a significant eye injury during the middle of her career, Leleux remains second on both the school’s indoor and outdoor all-time lists. She is at her first Olympics.
A pair of Bulldogs are supposed to be in action on Friday. Godwin, who already has a bronze medal in the mixed 4x400m relay, will take the track in the men’s 4x400m prelims at 7:25 a.m. Former Georgia NCAA champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who met husband Maicel Uibo while in Athens and eventually married him, will attempt to defend her gold medal in the 400m at 8:35 a.m.