track and field
Fans rally behind Stone
Kaufman, Stone are over the moon
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The roar of the crowd at sold-out Hayward Field was deafening. Still, out of the 10,000-plus voices in the stands for Monday's U.S. Olympic track and field trials, Adriane Sims Stone heard two chanting.
""I was walking off the track after I learned I had qualified for the (high jump) final and I heard these little voices," Stone said. "I looked up and these two local men were yelling for me. I climbed up to them and they started jumping up and down with me to celebrate.
"I don't know who they were, but they were from Hawaii and they were cheering for me. It was awesome."
"The 28-year-old Sims, a mother of three and wife of an Army soldier stationed at Schofield Barracks, is one of 14 high jumpers who qualified for tomorrow's final. Also attempting to make Team USA is University of Hawaii incoming junior Amber Kaufman, a member of the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team.
The two are scheduled to jump tomorrow beginning at 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time. In order to make the Olympic team, they would have to place in the top three as well as clear the Olympic standard of 1.95 meters (about 6 feet, 4 inches).
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They met a few months ago at an open meet at Cooke Field, sharing a love of jumping ... really high.
Tomorrow, Amber Kaufman and Adriane Sims Stone will share the national spotlight at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore.
Kaufman, a 19-year-old incoming junior at the University of Hawaii, and Sims, a 28-year-old mother of three, are among the 14 finalists attempting to make the U.S. team headed for Beijing next month. Both are considered long shots -- neither has ever come close to clearing the Olympic standard of 1.95 meters (roughly 6 feet, 4 inches) -- but that doesn't matter to the two athletes.
They've already exceeded their expectations.
"I'm not nervous or worried," Kaufman said in a telephone call last night. "For me to get 6-4 would be a miracle. (Her best is just under 6-1).
"My phone has been blowing up with calls and texts. It's cool to be here. Amy Acuff jumped right after me and I saw (Castle grad and 2004 decathlon silver medalist) Bryan Clay. And the crowd really loves their track."
"Kaufman is anxious about one thing. The outside hitter for the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team said she was ready to return to Hawaii and start practice next month.
But first things first. Her high school coach Derrick Bell has remained at the trials, donating his time to coach her.
Kaufman's mother, Stacy Farmer, had to return to California after Monday's prelims, "but I will be on the phone with her dad (Mark Kaufman) through the event," Farmer said. "It should be a great night for her regardless of the outcome."
"Stone feels the same way about tomorrow. Last November, she weighed 230 pounds, smoked two packs a day and was a self-described alcoholic.
The former elite high jumper -- she once ranked 10th nationally and competed at the 2000 Olympic trials -- found God and her competitive spirit. She lost 80 pounds and qualified for her second trials in May.
"It is so awesome to be here," Stone said. "When I saw Amber (on Monday) I gave her a hug. I am so proud of her.
"My college coach (St. Augustine's George Williams) is here. The Stanford coach who's been helping me over the Internet is here. Can I jump 6-4? Right now, I feel like I can jump over the moon."
"It was Williams who convinced Stone to return to the high jump when the two met last December in Waikiki. Stone said Williams, who is at the trials as an official, was shocked to see her competing.
"What makes me feel so good is he told me he's been coaching for over 30 years, had seen everything, but had never seen anyone come back like this," she said. "I don't even remember what 2000 was like. This time, my sister (Yvonne) is with me and it makes me so relaxed.
"Even if I don't make (the Olympic team), I am still victorious. To make it would be icing on the cake."