June 27, 2012
• European Athletics Championships Results
MADISON, Wis. -- A lifetime-best run has earned Egle Staisiunaite the opportunity of a lifetime.
Staisiunaite recorded the best time of her career Wednesday at the 2012 European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, blazing to a time of 56.58 seconds that secured her a spot not only in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles, but also in the Olympic Games.
The University of Wisconsin alumna her time in the preliminary round of the 400 hurdles, surpassing the Olympics' "B" qualifying standard in the process. Nations are allowed one "B" entry in each event for the Games, a spot Staisiunaite will fill for her native Lithuania in London.
The effort was a massive personal best for Staisiunaite, whose collegiate-best mark of 58.37 came in her final collegiate race -- at last year's NCAA outdoor championships. That mark ranks No. 2 all-time at UW.
Staisiunaite finished fourth in her heat and qualified for Thursday's semifinal round based on time. Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic won the heat and clocked the overall fastest time at 55.24.
Staisiunaite becomes the fifth Olympian produced by the Wisconsin women's track and field program, and the first since Kathy Butler ran for Great Britain at the 2004 Games in Athens.
She will be the fourth UW woman to compete at the Olympics in a track event, while her former Badgers teammate, Gwen Jorgensen, is a qualifier for London in the triathlon.
In all, the UW track programs have now qualified four athletes for the upcoming Games, with alumnus Matt Tegenkamp (men's 10,000 meters) joining Jorgensen and Staisiunaite. Junior Mohammed Ahmed can join that group Wednesday evening with a top-three finish in the men's 10,000 at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary.
Staisiunaite will run Thursday in the semifinals, looking to advance to Saturday's final.
Olympians - Wisconsin Women's Track & Field
- Cindy Bremser (USA) - 1984
- Suzy Favor Hamilton (USA) - 1992, 1996, 2000
- Kathy Butler (Canada, Great Britain) - 1996, 2004
- Gwen Jorgensen (USA) - 2012 (Triathlon)
- Egle Staisiunaite (Lithuania) - 2012