Senior Dora Gyorffy, last year's NCAA indoor high jump champion, competed yesterday in the Olympic Games, tying for 18th in the world in the high jump, but failing to qualify for tomorrow's finals.
Competing for her native Hungary, Gyorffy, who is taking the semester off, breezed through the opening heights of 1.80, 1.85 and 1.89 meters, nailing each height on her first attempt. She could not clear 1.92 meters on three attempts, however, dashing her chances for a medal.
"I was very excited for her," said Paul Turner, the Harvard track and field team's jumps coach. "I'm disappointed for her, not in her."
"We are very, very proud of her," said track co-captain Brenda Taylor. "She did very, very well. She is very talented. She kept herself together to come that far."
Thirteen jumpers cleared the 1.94 necessary meters to qualify for the finals. Gyorffy's outdoor season-best is 1.95 meters. She jumped 1.97 to tie the NCAA indoor record last winter and win the high jump title.
En route to her 18th-place finish, Gyorffy defeated all three American athletes, including collegiate rival Erin Aldrich of Texas, who jumped 1.85 meters. But Gyorffy, Turner said, probably did not care if she topped Aldrich this time around.
"At a meet like this, it doesn't matter who you beat," said Turner, who received a call from Gyorffy at 11:30 Wednesday night, about three hours after she finished competing. Turner said he did not check the Internet to see how she did, preferring instead to hear the news from her.
Taylor said she received an e-mail from Gyorffy that mentioned some troubles she had in Sydney yesterday. According to Taylor, Gyorffy's heel cup, which cushions and supports the foot, made her shoe too thick. That can make a jumper taller, which Olympic officials ruled was an unfair advantage. Gyorffy was told she could not wear the insole, Taylor said.