July 14, 2008
Rice assistant track and field coach Andrea Blackett, who represented Barbados in a pair of Olympic Games, has been appointed as the coach for the island's track and field team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Blackett had been training for a chance to compete in her third Olympics, but she was injured in training two months ago and after the injury did not respond to treatment, she made the decision to retire from competition.
"This is something that is disappointing and exciting at the same time," Blackett said. "I was really hoping to complete again, but this is a chance to be a part of the Olympic experience again. This time, I might actually be able to enjoy more of the Olympic experience, since I won't be so focused on my race," she added.
Blackett will coach three Barbadians who have qualified for the games, including a hurdler and a pair of sprinters, but she will also have a chance to keep an eye on fellow Owl Funmi Jimoh, who will compete for the United States in the long jump.
"That's another thing that will be very exciting," Blackett noted. "I am looking forward to seeing her compete."
Blackett was a member of the Rice track and field team from 1994-97. During that time, she set the Rice records in both the 100-m and 400-m hurdles. She joined Melissa Straker, TaNisha Mills and Margaret Fox in the 4x400-m relay to win the first NCAA indoor relay title for the Owls in 1997, setting a school record of 3:34.44.
She finished her collegiate career as a six-time all-America, including back-to-back turns in the 400-m hurdles in 1996 and 1997. She qualified for the NCAA championships all four years. Eleven years later, she still holds the school record in the 400 m hurdles, an outdoor event, as well as the indoor hurdle mark for the 55 m. She was inducted into the Rice athletic hall of fame in 2005 and was inducted again along with her teammates on the 4x400 relay in 2007.
A veteran international competitor, Blackett represented Barbados in six IAAF World Championships, qualifying for the final four times and placing fourth in 1999. In 2000 she competed in the Sydney Olympics, making it to the semifinal of the 400 hurdles, and she also competed in that event in 2004 at the Athens Olympics.