Brittney Reese: Poised for the Great Long Jump, by Elliott Denman, note by Larry Eder

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Thumbnail image for Reese_BrittneyPC-Stockholm12.jpg

Brittney Reese, Stockholm DN Galan, 2012, 

photo by PhotoRun.net


Brittney Reese is a two time World Indoor Champion and two World Outdoor Champion. She is now, an Olympic champion as well. 


Watch Reese jump. With the athleticism of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Reese uses her basketball talents to just not only out jump her competition, she out competes them as well. 


A last round big jump, like a last minute big throw or final lap, is the work of many hours of practice, and of taking a fearless approach to the event. Brittney Reese may be the long jumper, period, competing in our era. 


Elliott Denman wrote the following piece on the Queen of the Long Jump in 2012, and now 2013....


BRITTNEY REESE ...


BY ELLIOTT DENMAN

 

  NEW YORK - Brittney's never competed in Brittany.

 

  But she has competed in a long list of the world's far outposts and has brought home gold medals from the majority of these expeditions.

 

  Trouble is that she's never really earned the recognition she deserves from all these successes.  It's an unfortunate situation that keeps perpetuating itself.

 

  A familiar scenario is evolving for the women's long jump event at the 106th edition of the Millrose Games, Saturday night at the New Balance Track and Field Center, best known simply as The Armory.

 

   Brittney - that's Brittney Reese - is coming to town as queen of all she surveys and is primed to do something truly sensational at The Armory.

 

   Her event is scheduled for a 7:15 p.m. start.  That's just about when the majority of the

Millrose crowd - an expected sellout of over 4,500 - will be settling into its Armory seats and getting excited about the hot racing clashes they're about to witness.

 

   For sure, most of those races reckon to be truly sizzling.

 

  Among them:

  Matthew Centrowitz vs. Robby Andrews vs. Lopez Lomong vs. Lawi Lalang, and more,

 in the men's Wanamaker Mile, that caps the program just before 10 a.m.

 

  Mary Cain vs. Emma Coburn vs. Abbey D'Agostino vs, Jordan Hasay, and more, in the women's Wanamaker Mile.

 

  Bernard Lagat vs. Will Leer vs. Evan Jager vs. Cam Levins, and more, in the two-mile.

 

   Nick Symmonds vs. Duane Solomon vs. Kevin Borlee vs. Jarrin Solomon, and more, in the men's Mel Sheppard 600 meters.

 

  Alysia Montano vs. Ajee' Wilson vs. Erica Moore vs. Phoebe Wright, and more, in the women's Howard Schmertz 600.

 

  Doc Patton vs. Reggie Dixon vs. Kind Butler vs. Gerald Phiri, and more, in the men's 60-meter sprint.

 

   English Gardner vs. Jeneba Tarmoh vs. Lauryn Williams vs. Trish Ann Hawthorne, and more, in the women's 60.

 

  Jason Richardson vs. Jeff Porter vs. Andrew Riley vs. Jarret Eaton, and more, in the men's 60-meter hurdles.

 

  Yvette Lewis vs. Queen Harrison  vs. Ginnie Crawford vs. Jessica Zelinka, and more, in the women's 6o hurdles.

 

 But Brittney Reese promises to sizzle, too, at The Armory.

 

 Sure she  hopes some of the Millrose-goers pay her some attention, but she's not really banking on it, either.

 

  She'll jump against Janay DeLoach, Jesse Gaines, Whitney Gipson and Vashti Thomas.

 

 Reese already holds the American indoor record with the 23-8 3/4 span she achieved last March at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.  That knocked out the previous American indoor record of 23-4 3/4 notched by Jackie Joyner-Kersee back in 1994.

 

  Given the top quality and the good spring of the elevated Armory runway - where Miguel Pate sailed 28-2 1/4 back in 2002 for the facility's men's record - there's even some chance Reese may threaten the women's world indoor record of 24-2 1/4 that's been held since 1988 by Heike Dreschler of then-East Germany.

 

  Some lively musical accompaniment - "Sceam and Shout" by rapper Will.I - blared over the Armory's sound system should deliver some extra encouragement.


   

 

      But - know what? - even a performance in that record vicinity might have problems making the lead paragraph in the Saturday night news flashes.  As ever, seems that it's the manifest destiny of all the footracers to hog their sport's headlines.

 

    "I don't worry about any of those things," Reese said at a pre-Millrose press conference at the New York Athletic Club on Thursday.  "That part, it's beyond my control."

 

  "Runways everywhere are different," she said, "but I know this one is one of the best."

 

  She'll take a 10-step approach (two less than her outdoor norm), hopes to hit the board cleanly, "hang" as she flies through the Armory air, and, all going as expected, descend into the sand well-well past the seven-meter mark.

 

   (Dreschler's world indoor mark translates to 7.37 meters, Reese's American record to 7.23, Joyner-Kersee's old American best to 7.13.)

 

"I hope the competition's really good Saturday night," she said. "That's always helpful. It brings out my best."  DeLoach, who took the bronze medal back of Reese's gold at London last summer, figures to be her principal competition.

 

  Thanks to USA Track and Field, there was a goodwill element to her NYC trip.

 

   At a Wednesday trip to Manhattan's Public School 123, she regaled youngsters with the inside scoop on what it takes to succeed on the track, off the track, and all of life's intermediary stops.

 

  The 5-8 Reese started her college career at Gulf Coast Community College (where she competed in basketball but not track) and finished it at the University of Mississippi as the NCAA outdoor champion in 2007.

 

  Her string of big-time successes began in 2008 - when she won at the USA Olympic  Trials and went on to place fifth at the Beijing Olympic Games.

 

   That Trials triumph represented the first of her now-five consecutive American outdoor titles.

 

   For the past four-plus years, she's been on top of the globe  - as IAAF world indor champion in 2010 (Doha, Qatar) and 2012 (Istanbul),  world outdoor champion in 2009 (Berlin) and 2011 (Osaka) , and, since August 8, 2012, as Olympic champion.

 

  Winning at the London Games wasn't exactly easy.  She fouled her first two attempts in the qualifying round Aug. 7 - making lots of her fans v-v-v-v-very nervous, before clinching her spot in the finals.

 

  When those finals rolled around a day later, she again fouled her first jump before settling down to golden normalcy.

   

 Reese sailed 23-4 1/2 in round two and this proved to be the gold medal jump.

 

  But she had just one more legal jump - a weak 21-11 1/2 in round five, to go along with four fouls.

 

 "I feel like this is just the beginning," she told Track and Field News after the London triumph.

 

 "I'm going to train four more years and, hopefully, defend, my title."

 

  That would indeed be historic.  There have been 17 editions of the women's Olympic long jump and no one has won two in a row (although Dreschler struck gold in 1992 and 2000.)

 

   While focusing, of course, on the heptathlon, the great Joyner-Kersee collected the long jump gold in 1988 after placing fifth in 1984, then snaring bronze medals in 1992 and 1996.

 

   At London, Reese and DeLoach became the first two American women to medal in the same Olympic long jump, and just the fourth and fifth Americans ever to reach the podium in the event.

 

   WIllye White had taken the silver medal in 1956, and Kathy McMillan the silver in 1976.

 

   Like Willye White, Reese is a native Mississippian.

 

  They love her back in her hometown of Gulfport - which mounted a major celebration after her London return.


   Battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Reese family spent  months in a trailer before returning to permanent housing.

 

  Likely, the Katrina experience taught the life-lesson that nothing's ever going to come easy.

 

  Brittney Reese has been battling against the tide ever since - and somehow winning most of those encounters.

 

   She'll be heavily favored at the Armory Saturday night, heavily favored in the USA Outdoor Nationals at Drake in late June, and, likely. heavily favored at Moscow's World Championships in August.

  

    Don't bet aganst her staying on top all the way through 2016, either. Perhaps by Rio DeJaniero time, track and field fans will have discovered that  Ms. Brittney Reese is a very special, applause-worthy athlete.

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