By Daily Journal
TUPELO – Brittney Reese delivered.
The long jump world champion from Gulfport, a former Ole Miss All-American, added Olympic champion to her already impressive resume on Wednesday at the London Olympics.
She’s the first track athlete from the University of Mississippi to win an Olympic gold medal and her victory helps erase the bitter memory of a fifth-place finish in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
After fouling on Wednesday’s first try, she threw down a challenge to her 11 rivals – a jump of 7.12 meters (23-4.25) to move into first place.
“I wanted to come out and make a statement and that’s exactly what I did,” Reese, 25, told reporters.
Russia’s Elena Sokolova secured the silver with her second jump (7.07m/23-2.50) but took four more shots without breaking the 7-meter mark. Reese’s U.S. teammate, Janay DeLoach, grabbed the bronze with her next-to-last jump, a personal-best 6.89m/22-7.25.
Reese, who trained in Oxford under her former Ole Miss coach, Joe Walker, is only the second American woman to win the Olympic long jump, following in the footsteps of Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1988).
“It’s taken a lot, but it’s been fun,” Reese said. “I’ve dedicated a lot. It’s a surreal moment. I got very emotional, you do when you are representing your country and you can feel very proud.”
Reese’s gold medal was part of a magical 90 minutes for Team USA in track and field at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday – winning seven medals, including three gold. That helped the U.S. into the overall medals lead with 81 to 77 for second-place China.
Ole Miss junior Isiah Young, running in his first Olympics, was eliminated in the men’s 200-meter semifinals on Wednesday.