LONDON — Like a NASCAR pit crew, George Kitchens found himself tinkering to increase horsepower and find peak performance.
The former Glenn Hills and Clemson star needed a few more laps.
Kitchens scratched on his first two attempts and fell short of the pack on the third Friday to miss escaping the first round of the long jump at the Olympics.
The Augusta native recorded one measurement – 22 feet, 5 1/4 inches – to finish second to last out of 40 jumpers who recorded a score in front of 62,421 at Olympic Stadium.
“The wind was swirling,” said Kitchens, a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion at Clemson and post-college national champion in
“You would have a tail wind, you would have a head wind. It was kind of tough making the adjustments. It was just an adjustment thing.”
The shifting winds badgered Kitchens, who came up well short of his personal best of 27 feet.
“I did as best as I could,” he said.
“I put it all out there – it just didn’t happen.”
The two other Americans in the field – Marquise Goodwin (second), Will Claye (eighth) – advanced to today’s final.
Kitchens already is looking ahead, because the jump of 26-11¾ at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials already has qualified him for the world championships in 2013.
When he competes at those championships, he’ll already own experience competing against the best.
“You’re lining up against some of the best athletes in the world,” Kitchens
Kitchens did allow himself one moment to look back, however.
“The whole experience is surreal,” he said. “It’s like a dream – just being here. This is something every athlete in the world aspires to do in the track and field.
“To be here is great.”