US Olympic Track Team 2012: Why Brittney Reese Is Destined for Long Jump Gold

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

DALLAS, TX - MAY 13:  (EDITOR'S NOTE:  Image has been converted to black and white)  Track and field athlete, Brittney Reese poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Brittney Reese’s trophy case is stocked with top accolades that span five years of dominance in the women’s long jump: four straight world championship golds from 2009 to 2012, the longest outdoor jump this year and the American indoor world record.

All that’s left for “Da Beast,” Reese's nickname coined from her Ole Miss days, is to jump toward Olympic gold. Signs point to the 25-year old becoming the second U.S. long jumper to take gold since Jackie-Joyner-Kersee in 1988.

Reese and Joyner-Kersee have been an oft-mentioned pair since the former began taking the long jump by storm five years ago. Joyner-Kersee has been keeping a close watch on Reese since she burst onto the scene, frankly, because the Inglewood product is too good to ignore.

“I’ve always liked her demeanor,” Joyner-Kersee said. “I observe a lot of athletes from afar and I see how they are as a person, how they are around friends and family and even strangers. She can seem soft-spoken, but really, she’s just that focused.“ via Washington Post.

Reese further aligned herself with her American predecessor when she broke her outdoor jump record earlier this year with a 7.23-meter final round. That record stands at Reese’s personal best thus far; it is also the world’s longest outdoor jump this year, according to USA Today..

All that stands in Reese’s way is herself; as cliché as it sounds, Olympians in these Games have found themselves one jump, one run or one shot away from greatness, but to no avail. McKayla Maroney knows that feeling. The Canadian women’s soccer team on Monday night, as well.

Reese knows the pain as well, although it was before she discovered unparalleled success. The Beijing Games in 2008 were supposed to be her coming-out party. She had the longest jump of anybody in the qualifying rounds.

In the final round, though, she would get too tight. Reese would settle for a fifth-place finish.

She believes she became a more focused athlete on that day:

It taught me when I go out to compete to have fun, not focus solely on winning,” she said. “Everything about Beijing helped me get my mind set for London.” Via Washington Post.

Reese has been brilliant since Beijing, destined for a finals jump that will once again dictate her Olympic legacy. Word is 23 ft will get her on the podium; her best this year was 23 and 7 1/4 ft. A repeat performance will do the trick, or even better, an attempt at the world record: 24 and 8 1/4 ft.

If history is any indicator, Reese will be right at the top.

They don’t call her “Da Beast” for nothing.