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Christina Epps of Morristown competes in the triple jump at USA Track and Field’s Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 26. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A Coppin State University graduate is among the throng of athletes who will represent Team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

During the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. on July 7, Christina Epps placed second in the women’s triple jump  with a mark of 14.17 meters (46-6), securing a her place at the Rio Olympics.

“Being the first Olympian of the best HBCU on the planet, my alma mater, Coppin State means the world to me,” Epps said in a statement. “I hope I’ve not only made my school proud but have inspired my fellow Coppinites to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what other people are doing, but with God, the right mindset, hard work, and dedication anything is possible.”

Securing the spot was no easy feat. Epps fouled in her first two attempts but gained three more tries after landing a 45-5 in round three, according to Coppin Sports Information. She assured her place on the team on her fifth jump.

“My experience at the U.S. Olympic trials was an amazing experience, something I can’t describe in words. It was my first trials and definitely one I will never forget,” Epps said. “I’ve been chasing the dream of making an Olympic Team since 2012, when I tore my ACL. Watching the 2012 Olympic Trials at home when I was injured made me realize how much I had taken my talent for granted and motivated me to work harder to achieve my goal of making an Olympic Team.”

Epps, who currently works as an academic advisor in Coppin’s athletics department, still trains at the school’s track under the tutelage of her former collegiate coach, Interim Athletic Director Alecia Shields-Gadson.

“She showed up and God showed out,” Shields-Gadson said. “This has truly been a journey and Christina has persevered and is reaping the benefits of the hard work, sacrifices, and discipline it takes to be a world class athlete. We are still taking it all in, but that will be short-lived as its back to Coppin to resume training.”

Epps will be among several African-American women on Team USA, including:

Nia Abdallah, Taekwondo

Allyson Felix, Track and Field

Orie Agbaji, Volleyball

Jenny Arthur, Weightlifting

Seimone Augustus, Basketball

Simone Biles, Gymnastics

-Gabrielle Douglas, Gymnastics

Simone Manuel, Swimming
For a full list of Team USA and U.S. Paralympics athletes and their bios, visit:  http://www.teamusa.org/athletes

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO