LONDON- Former WKU sprinting star Gavin Smellie ran the leadoff leg for Canada in Friday's 4X100 relay at the London Olympic Games, helping the Canadians earn a spot in Saturday's finals.
Canada finished the relay in 38.05 seconds, which trailed only the United States and Jamaica in preliminary action. Smellie's teammates included Justyn Warner, Sam Effan and Jared Connoughton.
"I'm not sure how, but I felt good," said Smellie after the race. "I really got a good start, and we executed well."
Running from the third lane and seeded 11th entering preliminaries, Canada finished second in its heat behind defending champion and world-record holding Jamaica (37.39).
The United States posted the fastest final qualifying time at 37.38, leaving just .33 seconds between first and third place. Two-time defending Olympic 100 and 200-meter champion Usain Bolt did not run in preliminaries for Jamaica, but is slated to run in the finals.
Should Smellie and his teammates hold their seed during finals competition, he would be the second Hilltopper in the 2012 Olympics to earn a medal.
Claire Donahue, a 2011 graduate, earned a swimming gold medal on the United States 4X100 medley relay. WKU entered the 2012 London Games with just one medal in school history, a bronze from Bernd Herrman in West Germany's 4X400 relay during the 1976 Montreal Games.
Tomorrow's finals are set for 3 p.m. (CT) and Smellie is optimistic about Canada's chances at the medal podium.
"Anything can happen in an Olympic Games and we're just going to just try our best," he said.
"I feel like we didn't give everything, so I'll just go out there and give our best and hope for the best. Whatever medal it is, it is a medal, so I'm happy with it."