Christina Epps, the first Coppin State University graduate to make the U.S. Olympic team, has become a hometown hero in Baltimore but endured a rocky performance in Rio. 

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 her a place at the Rio Olympics. 

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)

Epps did not have an easy road to Rio. She hoped to make the team for the London games in 2012, but was sidelined when she tore her ACL training for the Olympic Trials.

“I’ve been chasing the dream of making an Olympic Team since 2012, when I tore my ACL,” Epps told the AFRO in July. “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 almost didn’t make the team this year after she fouled in her first two jumps but gained three more jumps after landing a 13.87 meters (45-5) jump in round three, according to Coppin Sports Information. She assured her place on the team with 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. 

Her trip to Rio, however, did not have a happy ending: Epps failed to make it out of the qualifying round of the women’s triple jump. She finished 15th out of 37 women with a best jump of 14.01 meters (45-10) and just barely missed the cut by .07 meters—a spot held by the lone American remaining in the event, Keturah Orji. Columbia’s Catherine Ibaguen won the gold medal in the event. 

Prior to the 2016 Olympic Games, Epps was working as an academic advisor in Coppin’s athletics department, while training at the school’s track under the tutelage of her former collegiate coach, Interim Athletic Director Alecia Shields-Gadson.