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Columbia Missourian

Asigbee ready for first Trials

July 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT

In her first year as a U.S. citizen Fiona Asigbee hopes to represent her country as a heptathlete in the Olympics this August in Athens, Greece.

Missouri’s Asigbee, 22, will travel to Sacramento, Calf., to compete in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials today. With 5,669 points, Asigbee is the 16th seed in a field of 27.

Sheila Burrell is the first seed with 6,272 points.

Asigbee, born in Manchester, England, lived there for six years before moving to Walford, Iowa, with her parents.

Asigbee completed her eligibility in 2003 and is an undergraduate assistant coach. Asigbee said she has not let herself think too much about the Trials, keeping herself occupied by working at MU camps.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet; I am just trying to stay focused,” Asigbee said. “I just have a lot going on and I have not really had time to let it set in yet. I think it will hit me when I get there and see all the different athletes there and see a great competition. It will probably be overwhelming but yet exciting at the same time.”

Asigbee is used to competition. In 2003, she won the Big 12 Conference Championship indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon. Asigbee finished ninth in the heptathlon in the 2003 NCAA Championships and eighth at the USATF Championships.

Looking back on her accomplishments, Asigbee said she has come a long way since her freshman year in high school when she considered herself a sprinter.

“I did not start focusing on technical things like hurdles until my senior year of high school,” Asigbee said. “I have picked up other things along the way. I have not really had a specialty.”

When Asigbee came to MU as a hurdler and long jumper, two of the seven events in the heptathlon, coach Rick McGuire said she was a little reluctant to add events. He persuaded her to try the heptathlon by the time she was a sophomore.

“She is a very good athlete,” McGuire said. “It took her about a year and a half for her to get a grasp of all the events, but that is totally normal. She turned out to be an outstanding prospect.”

When Asigbee started competing in the heptathlon, she did not look forward to running the 800 meters, the last event. Asigbee said she doesn’t enjoy it, but has learned how to compete in the event.

“Before every event I get nervous,” Asigbee said. “Before the 800 ... the meet can sometimes come down to that event ... so I guess I get really nervous before it. But you still have to do it. You can’t just say I am too nervous to do it, it’s part of the heptathlon.”

Asigbee talks about the heptathlon as if everyone should know about the Olympic event that began in 1964. Asigbee has competed in the event for three years and refers to it as the “hep.”

At the 2003 Big 12 outdoor meet, Asigbee earned a score comparable to the Olympic Trials’ B standard of 5,475 points.

“Ever since then I knew that it was something possible, and attainable, I just had to work a little harder to get a little better in some areas,” Asigbee said. “This whole year my focus has been to try and train and get better for (the Trials). I left it basically up to training, but I wanted to put in as much time and as much effort as needed to obtain that goal.”

Asigbee’s training must have paid off. McGuire said Asigbee is the fittest she has been in her life.

“I know there are a lot of girls who have been doing this for a while and have a lot of experience under their belt,” Asigbee said. “But who knows, it’s not impossible. But, we’ll see, we’ll see what happens.”

Asigbee finished No. 4 on MU’s performance list at the 2003 Big 12 championship with 5,583 points.

“In training age, she is very young,” McGuire said. “There is so much more to learn, so much more to master. I think if everything works out for her, then she’ll have her best ever this weekend.”

Although Asigbee is working on her pre-med degree, everyone continues to ask her what is in store for her.

“I think getting to this stage has got her fire going and she is not going to want to give it up,” McGuire said. “I think this kid is really going to make it big over the next few years.”

McGuire’s expectations of Asigbee have the opportunity to begin to play out at the Trials. While her coach dreams for her, Asigbee has not dwelled too much on qualifying for the U.S Olympic team.

“I think it would be an honor,” Asigbee said. “It would be really exciting to get such a privilege, knowing all your hard work has paid off.”