Brigetta Barrett, a University of Arizona senior won the silver medal Saturday in the high jump at the 2012 London Olympics.
Barrett overcame first-attempt misses at 6-5½, 6-6¾ and 6-8 to clear each of those heights and take second place between Russians Anna Chicherova at 6-8¾ and Svetlana Shkolina, who had one more miss than Barrett at 6-8.
Barrett is the first American to secure a medal in the high jump category since Louise Ritter won the gold in Seoul, 1988.
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She jumped higher than any US collegian in history, even though the mark formally will not count as an NCAA record.
"I'm not going to lie; I kind of blacked out," Barrett said, attempting a 6-8. "I was very scared. I know this is what we do, and people don't really expect us to be afraid of a bar. There's a moment between step seven and eight where I have to decide if I'm really going to go for this jump or not. I was just like go for it and trust yourself and trust God. I put my foot down and closed my eyes, and when I hit that mat without hitting the bar, I was like, 'Thank you Jesus.' "
Barrett grew up in New York and then moved to Duncanville, Texas, for her final two years of high school. She is coached by assistant Sheldon Blockburger at UA, where she has twice swept NCAA indoor and outdoor titles. She is also a finalist for the Bowerman Award as collegiate Athlete of the Year.
Barrett described Blockburger as her surrogate father, since she grew up with a single parent.
At a news conference after receiving her medal, Barrett, a theatre arts major, broke into the gospel song 'I'm Available to You' when asked what she was singing during the competition.
Chicherova said Barrett asked her and the others to pray together in the call room before they entered the stadium, as reported by USA Today.
"It was a little unusual," the Russian admitted. "She was so sincere and touching. I see more light (in Barrett). If you're sincere in your beliefs, it helps you."