2016 IAAF World Athletics Champs: Why Brittney Reese is the Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe

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Reese_Brittney1b-World16.JPGBrittney Reese, photo by PhotoRun.net

Updated for editing

One of the finest long jump competitions that I have ever witnessed happened at the World Indoors. The battle between Ivana Spanovic, Janay DeLoach, Lorraine Ugen and Brittney Reese was riveting.

After her fine clutch leap of 7.22 meters, I had to name Brittney Reese as the Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe. Here is why....

Ivana Spanovic was on a roll. She leaped 7.00 meters and took the lead, setting a national record.

Brittney Reese responds with 6.97 meters, her longest jump since 2015. After her fine 6.89 meter leap for the USA Indoor win, and her 6.81 meter leap in February, Brittney looked like the old Brittney, the one who brought home two Olympic golds and three World Indoor Champs. Was she back all the way? Fans were pondering.

So was Brittney.

Her injury came in 2013, where she tore her hip (labrum). Instead of repairing it in 2013, she just put her head down and competed through the season. Her series of five years of championship victories ended in 2013.

2014 was the year of surgery and recovery.

There is something about an athlete on the top of their game. After years of finely tuned training, the grace and agility of an elite athlete makes the activity, in many cases, look effortless. While Brittney Reese never looks effortless, her talent is in the amazing athleticism, both physically and psychologically, that she brings to the game.

In 2015, it just was not there. She won the US champs with 6.97 meters, but blew many of our minds when she did not make the final in Beijing! Her timing was off, she was fouling a remarkable number of times. This viewer could sense the frustration.

"It took me two years just to get back to where I was. I couldn't stay healthy last year at all and fianlly I had to just step back and see why I love the sport and work hard on getting really healthy" was how Brittney Reese described her frustration to the IAAF.

Coming back from an injury and surgery can not be calculated on an abacus. The time stretches and the frustration of activities that one found effortless before hits home. Should one retire? Should one give up? Surely, Brittney Reese had enough medals to call it a day.

But, not Brittney Reese. Not the funk queen of the long jump universe.

I have intereviewed Brittney on several occassions. I like her upbeat manner. I respect her hard work, but most of all, I like her gamespersonship.

Brittney Reese is one of the toughest competitors that I have ever seen.

In round five of the World Champs indoor, Brittney Reese leaped 7.00 meters, her farthest jump in three years.

In round five, Ivana Spanavic responded with 7.07 meters, a second National Record.

So, in round six, Reese and Spanovic have their jumps. It is down to them.

How will Brittney Reese respond? Is her body ready to challenge Ivana Spanovic, the reigning European Indoor champion, who is jumping National records as if they were pieces of popcorn.

Watching Brittney Reese in good health and in competitive mode is a site to behold.

Reese was focused before she went for her sixth and final jump. She used every centimeter on the run up and leaped in the air, landing farther than she had since 2012! Her final jump was 7.22 meters, just one centimeter off her leap in Instanbul in 2012, where she last won the World Indoor.

Her leap of 7.22 meters stunned the already hyped crowd.

How would Ivana Spanovic respond? Could she improve on her 7.00 meters and 7.07 meters?

Spanovic leaped to 6.76 meters, Reese's leap could no longer be challenged.

So, why do I call Brittney Reese the funk queen of the Long Jump Universe?

It actually comes from Matt Groening, the guy who does the Simpsons. Way back in the laste 1970s, he did a poster called "Poodle with a Mohawk". I still have it somewhere. Groening used the funk queen line to pay credit to one of his friends who was a fine cartoonist. (Update: In his Life is Hell book, he called Lynda Barry "the Funk Queen of the Galaxy).

So, I have lifted it, and now use it to pay credit to Brittney Reese, who is obviously back in shape and back in competitive mind set. Keeping one's head when one's steps are just a bit off, and the competition has raised the game, is what Brittney Reese just did in Portland last weekend.

With seven global titles now, let's see how Brittney Reese responds for Eugene and then, Rio.

And for that, we at RunBlogRun have burdened Brittney Reese with the title, Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe.

Yep, we worship her.

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