June 14, 2000
Oklahoma Baptist University's Jamaal Jackson, a junior from Cushing, will compete in two meets in Houston, Texas, next weekend, hoping for a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.
Jackson will run in a meet at the University of Houston on Thursday, June 22, and at another meet at Rice University on Friday, June 23. Jackson need only shave less than a quarter of a second off his NAIA national championship time of 50.44 to qualify. The qualifying mark is 50.20.
If successful, Jackson will become the first OBU athlete to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials since Wewoka native Gary Wilson achieved the feat in 1964. Sacramento, Calif., hosts this year's trials and Jackson would begin competing July 15.
Jackson brings impressive credentials to the games. His current personal best in the 400 hurdles of 50.44 is not only an OBU record; it is also better than Lefou's 50.7 Olympic time. Jackson also owns an OBU record 17 All-America titles, including seven NAIA national titles.
He won this year's NAIA hurdles championship despite not having seriously competed in the event at the college level before this season. He is a national champion in the 400 meters and the 200 meters, as well as four relay teams.
Coach Ford Mastin was impressed by his time on a number of fronts, including running on a cold day and not having a serious threat pushing him to run faster.
"We're hoping that someone will push him in Houston, just to get those competitive juices flowing," Mastin said.
Jackson could become the fifth Bison to reach the U.S. Olympic Trials, joining Wilson, Jay Chance, Sam Allen and Harold Cagle. Of those, only Cagle made the Olympic team and was a teammate of Jesse Owens in 1936. Allen finished fourth and only three athletes were taken. Cagle won the silver medal in the 1600-meter relay. Allen held the world record in the 60-yard high hurdles in 1936.
OBU has also had several international athletes represent their nation in the Olympics. Judex Lefou ran in Seoul and in Barcelona for Mauritius while Desire Pierre-Louis also represented that nation in Atlanta. Willie Rios ran the 1500 meters for Puerto Rico and Pat McMahon represented Ireland in the marathon in the 1968 games.
Jackson is still in need of sponsorship. For more information, contact Mastin at 405-878-2133.