Two runners with TCNJ ties could be chasing gold in 2012

Miriam Khan (left). Photo (c) NCAA Photos

A former national champion and the current assistant sprint coach for the track and field team have strong shots at competing in next summer’s Olympics.

Miriam Khan ’11, the 2010 NCAA Division III National Champion in the 100-meters, is vying to represent her mother’s native country, Italy, while Ashhad Agyapong, a third-year assistant coach, is hoping to represent his father’s native country, Ghana. The two are training under the direction of Lions Assistant Coach Justin Lindsey.

Khan said it’s been her dream since high school to compete in the Olympics, but it wasn’t until she won nationals during her junior year at TCNJ that she realized her dream could become reality. She ran a blistering 11.67 seconds at the 2010 national championships—the third-fastest time in NCAA history—despite having trained for only four months prior to the race due to a herniated disk. After Khan’s historic performance, Lindsey told her that if she committed to a rigorous training regimen, and her back cooperated, “the possibilities were limitless” for her.

With her back problem under control, she’s continued training under Lindsey since graduating in May 2011, and this past summer ran her second-fastest time ever in the 100-meters, 11.74, at the 2011 USA Long Island Track and Field Association Open Championships. She’s still in the process of obtaining dual citizenship, but said there have been unofficial indications that the Italian National Team would be interested in her running for them once she does.

Ashhad Agyapong. Photo (c) Mike Scott

Agyapong, who already has dual citizenship, has been chasing his Olympic dream since college, when he was a 16-time Atlantic 10 Conference champion and nine-time New England Region Champion for the University of Rhode Island. He’s been training under Lindsey for three years, and has been ranked as high as No. 42 in the world in the 200-meters.

Last summer, Agyapong ran the 4×100 relays at the World Championships in South Korea and at the All-Africa Games in Mozambique, taking silver at the latter meet. “Competing on such prodigious international levels this summer has laid the preliminary groundwork for what we are doing to prepare for the Olympics,” said Agyapong. “The physical attributes are there, they just need fine tuning. In sport athletes constantly struggle with the mental, and since returning from competition, my motivation and will to be great are at new levels.”

Agyapong said he’s now working with Lindsey to improve his overall speed and power, and is hoping to qualify for the individual 100- and 200-meter events, in addition to the 4×100, for next summer’s games.

Khan and Agyapong will be competing in a number of events this spring in the run-up to the Olympics. You can follow their progress online at www.amkinternational.org.

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