OXFORD – Former Ole Miss track star Brittney Reese, currently the No. 1 long jumper in the world, is light on specifics as to what she’ll do for an encore to the gold medal she won last week in Berlin at the World Championships.
After all, her head is spinning right now.
Hours after winning where Jesse Owens won before Hitler in 1936, Reese flew back to the states and was in class at Ole Miss on Monday. She is nine hours away from completing degree requirements and expects to graduate in December.
“I’m still adjusting to my time schedule. It’s just back and forth with sleep right now,” said Reese, who won the gold medal with a personal best jump of 23-3 1-2.
The 22-year-old Gulfport native owns the top three jumps in the world this year, all of them surpassing 23 feet. She earned $60,000 for the winning jump in Berlin.
She’ll compete once more this season, at the IAAF Banks World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece Sept. 12-13.
Reese finished fifth last summer in the 2008 Olympics, her first. Leading up to the 2012 games Reese will take on a schedule that will have her in about 15 events per season.
Ole Miss coach Joe Walker, who continues to serve as Reese’s private coach, would like to see her receive more attention for the medal she just won.
“The Olympics are a premier event but not the only event. This event (world championships) is so much bigger. It’s unbelievably huge in Europe, Asia and South America.”
Reese said her return to campus was strange, as though people were admiring her from a distance.
“In the paper they called me ‘the Golden Child.’ Most everybody is cool. They see me, and I guess they’re afraid to say something. They know it’s me, but they stare and don’t say anything.”
Once an aspiring basketball player, Reese is still very young in her career as an elite track and field athlete.
“She is the third-youngest long jump world champion ever,” Walker said.
So what about that encore? Reese says she’d like to see improvement in her steps leading to launch and in her landing.
“I’ve never been one to set numerical goals, because those can limit you. You may only jump this, because you think that’s what you’re supposed to jump,” Walker said. “I foresee her getting a lot better. She did a very good job of improvement from 2007 to 2008 and from 2008 to 2009. I see no signs of her leveling off.”
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal