Six days after her 23rd birthday, Tyra Gittens gifted herself the heptathlon title on what was for her a bittersweet final day of the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

In what she described as the hardest meet of her life, the Texas A&M junior topped the heptathlon high jump (1.84m), long jump (6.64) and 200m (23.79) on the way to her second-best score of 6285 points that was more than enough for victory but 135 points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420.

It was, however, 218 more of the University of Miami’s Michelle Atherley. The Miami senior, who was the fastest in the 100m hurdles (13.15), scored 6067 points for the silver medal. University of Texas freshman Kristine Blazevica scored 5984 points for the bronze medal.

Putting it simply, after three days of gruelling competition, Gittens just ran out of gas. She literally fell across the finish line to complete the heptathlon 800m in which she was 19th overall, scoring 707 points for her time of 2:28.88.

Her legs were sapped because after the long jump on Thursday in which she won a silver medal, Gittens then had four events in the heptathlon on Friday before completing the other three on Saturday even while contending for individual honours in the high jump.

She just managed to complete the high jump 10 minutes before competing in the heptathlon 800m, her final event of the meet.

The athlete, who has a season-best of 1.95m was only able to clear 1.87m, good enough for third place behind A&M teammate, Jamaica’s Lamara Distin, who cleared a personal best 1.90m to win the silver medal. The gold medal went to South Carolina freshman, Rachel Glenn, who cleared a personal-best 1.93m.

Gittens just missed out on long-jump gold on Thursday when she soared out to 6.68m, two centimetres shy of the winning mark of 6.70m by Texas sophomore Tara Davis.

 Jasmine Moore of Georgia jumped 6.65m for the bronze medal.

 

 

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