This time Derrick Peterson went faster than he ever had and made it.
He knew that was what it would take.
Peterson, a former Missouri athlete, placed third in the finals of the 800-meter run Monday night at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., to qualify for next month’s Games in Athens, Greece.
It was Peterson’s second Trials. In 2000, he missed qualifying for the 800 finals by one-hundredth of a second.
“Obviously, my motivating factor was redemption, and that was achieved tonight,” Peterson said. “It was exuberant excitement. I knew what I worked for the past four years was achieved when I crossed the finish line.”
Peterson, 26, who runs with the Adidas club, finished in 1 minute, 45.08 seconds, a new personal best. The fastest Peterson had gone entering the Trials had been a 1:45.18 for second place at the 2000 NCAA outdoor meet to set the Missouri record.
“I knew that it was probably going to take a personal best to get on the team, and that was my mindset coming in,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he made his move on the straightaway, 50 meters from the finishline.
“I was just sprinting and hoping my legs didn’t give out on me,” Peterson said.
Peterson’s family, friends as well as his girlfriend and teammates were in attendance.
Jonathan Johnson, from Texas Tech, won in 1:44.77, and Khadevis Robinson, with Nike, finished second in 1:44.91.
David Krummenacker, who held the fastest qualifying time for the trials, finished fourth with 1:45.67. The top three finishers qualify for the Olympics.
Peterson, the No. 4 seed at the Trials, finished second in the first heat of the semifinals with a time of 1:47.87.
Peterson said qualifying for the Olympics was his focus throughout the Trials, and he maintained that focus by avoiding the hype.
As for the Olympics, Peterson said he will keep his preparation the same with the hopes of more surprising results.
“I’m not a clear-cut favorite, but I hope to assume the role of underdog again,” Peterson said.