HBCU sprinter loses Olympic dream due to USATF sanction issue

Kai Cole, a standout sprinter from HBCU Norfolk State University, ran for an Olympic Trials automatic qualifying standard time. Cole ran 10.05 seconds in the 100 meters at the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) Outdoor Track and Field Championships, a time that automatically qualified him for the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials. However, controversy has clouded the achievement as the United States Track and Field (USATF) organization has rejected Cole’s time, citing that the MEAC Championship was not a sanctioned event.

Cole posted a statement regarding the issue.

“I wanted to let you all know that I won’t be attending the Olympic Trials this weekend. As many of you know, I was supposed to be competing, but due to MEAC’s failure to sanction our conference track meet, my qualifying time of 10.05 was rejected by USATF. Despite my best efforts to appeal the decision, it was still denied, and unfortunately, my university didn’t fully support me in an effort to get the ruling overturned. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often, so for this to be stripped away from me is truly heartbreaking.

HBCU Olympic Trials  Kai Cole USATF Olympic

Out of the 5 years of putting my all into Norfolk State Track and Field, it is unfortunate that this is the way my journey has to end. Being a multi-time champion in the MEAC conference and a 3x school record holder it’s upsetting that this was out of my control.

Thank you, Coach Dwayne, Coach Ashanti, and most of all, Coach Price, for your all-out effort to fight for me. Your support means the world to me.

Thank you all for your understanding and continued.”

Cole and his coach, Jerry Price, appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied, ending Cole’s opportunity to compete in the Olympic Trials. This decision is particularly frustrating because Cole’s performance met all necessary conditions for qualification, including being wind-legal. The MEAC Championships are a Division I conference championship for the HBCU league, but the lack of USATF sanctioning has created a major obstacle.

Cole, a multi-time MEAC indoor and outdoor champion and three-time Norfolk State school record holder, now faces the disappointment of missing the Olympic Trials.

As the Spartan star processes this outcome, he continues to receive strong support from fans, teammates, and the broader HBCU community. Kai Cole’s story exemplifies determination and the ongoing fight for fair recognition in collegiate sports.

HBCU Gameday reached out to the MEAC, but its officials were not available to comment at press time.

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