By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
The buzz around the women’s long jump crowd was that Brittney Reese would win gold at the US Outdoor Championships.
That much didn’t surprise the former Ole Miss Olympian. But even Reese was taken aback by how much she took the field.
Reese’s jump of 23-3.25 was almost a foot better than the second-place finisher, Brianna Glenn, who jumped 22-4.50.
Reese, a native of Gulfport, notched her personal best on the first of six jumps.
“They had me expected to win going in, but I didn’t know I’d jump as far as I did. I was hoping to jump that far, but I surprised even my own self.”
The jump was more than a half foot better than Reese’s fifth-place finish in Beijing last August, her first Olympic experience, and ranks as the No. 3 all-time jump by an American woman.
She was disappointed by not earning an Olympic medal, but as time offered a different perspective she was pleased with her overall Olympic performance.
“I didn’t perform the way I wanted to, but overall I couldn’t be upset. I had gotten eighth place at Worlds, so I had improved against the same people. Once I thought about it I wasn’t that upset.”
Reese’s win in Eugene qualifies her for this summer’s World Championships in Berlin in late August. In the meantime, she’ll take some time off before picking up the training pace.
Ole Miss coach Joe Walker continues to serve as Reese’s personal coach. He was with her Eugene and will be with her again in Berlin.
“It’s like everything else, when you’re doing the things you should be doing, working at it, you’re going to get better,” Walker said. “Brittney’s time in the sport is still fairly short. She’s still a young jumper in terms of experience, but she’s worked hard in the weight room, she’s done those things, and there are a lot of factors as to why she’s better.”
Walker says a jump of 7 meters – right at 23 feet – is a benchmark in the sport, and the fact that Reese has surpassed that mark twice speaks to her consistency. He likes her chances in Berlin.
“It’s a very competitive environment with all the people who were in the Olympics last year plus some new names,” he said. “She’s going over there with the idea of winning it, but you don’t win world championships just because you want to.”
Reese credits her performance at the national meet with increased speed to the takeoff board. If she maintains that improvement and can tweak her landing she believes she can stretch that distance further.
“I have to get better on my landing. I’m progressing there, but if I get the landing down I should be able to reach 24 feet,” she said. “It’s going to take at least 23 feet to win at Worlds. The women in the field are capable of hitting that, especially the Olympic champion.”
Having attained a new personal best jump in each of the last two seasons, Reese believes she’s on track for a better Olympic performance in 2012.
“I had the PR last year and this year, and if I can keep getting better each year that will be a really good thing for me going into the next Olympics.”