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(NNPA)—U.S. swimmer Cullen Jones secured a trip to the 2012 Olympics in London after winning the 50-meter freestyle race at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on July 1.

HEADED TO LONDON—Cullen Jones leaps off the starting blocks in the first heat of the men’s 50-meter freestyle swimming semifinal at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., June 30. (AP Photo/The Omaha World-Herald/Matt Miller)

Jones won with a time of 21.59 seconds, edging second-place finisher Anthony Ervin by .01 second as the two Black men lunged toward the finish line. Jones also finished in second place in the 100-meter freestyle during the U.S. trials.

“It means a lot. I had some definite doubts the last couple years,” said Jones who struggled to compete at the same level he did three years ago when he set the American record in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis in 2009. Jones’ web site notes that he set records while at North Carolina State University and is a four-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion.

“I refocused this past year,” Jones told the Associated Press. “A lot of the coaches from the national team said to me, ‘We need you for this relay, we need one of the best 100 freestylers in the U.S. to be ready come London because the world is getting faster,’ and I’m happy I could answer that call.”

This will be the second straight trip to the Olympics for Jones, who became only the second African-American male swimmer to qualify for the Olympics and win or share a gold medal during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The 28-year-old Bronx-born Jones swam with the gold medal 4×400 meter relay team that set a world record in Beijing.

Ervin, a 31-year-old African American, won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Ervin will compete in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle along with Jones in London. Both may also be called to compete with the relay teams.

The 2012 London Olympics are scheduled to begin July 27.

(Reprinted from the Afro American.)

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