AKRON, Ohio – Two University of Akron students and track and field standouts will represent their countries when they compete next month at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Clayton Murphy will run in the 800-meter event and Shawn Barber will compete in the pole vault.
Both men have a chance to win medals and possibly even bring home the gold.
Earlier this month, Murphy, 21, won the 800-meter title at the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. His victory made him the first Zip track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics.
His time of 1:44:76 was a personal best.
“To have that honor, it’s great. It’s something that for sure I’ll never forget. I will always have Olympian next to my name, but I’m just super excited to have the opportunity and honored to be able to wear USA across my chest,” Murphy said.
Murphy told newsnet5.com that his goal is to make the 800 final at the Olympic games and then race for a medal.
“Once you make a final– eight guys– anything can really happen at that point,” he said. “I think making the final for sure is a good goal and it’s something I think I can achieve.”
Murphy, who has turned pro and runs for Team Nike, will leave for Rio on August 2. He will stay at the Olympic village, and unlike some athletes, he’s not worried about the Zika Virus.
“It’s not as bad as what people are saying. I’m just focused on racing, getting down there and worrying about myself.”
A few days after Murphy qualified for the Olympics, Barber, 22, won the men’s pole vault at the Canadian Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He best personal vault is 19-8 1/2, which he achieved during an indoor meet this year in Reno, Nevada.
Barber also captured the pole vaulting world championship in Beijing in 2015.
Barber is a dual-citizen and U.S. resident. He is representing Canada to honor his father who was a Canadian pole vaulter and became Shawn’s coach.
The qualifying rounds for pole vault at the Olympics will be Aug. 13 and the finals will take place on Aug. 15.
The men’s 800-meter final is scheduled for Aug. 15.