U.S. long jumper Brittney Reese’s first Olympic Games were a disappointment, as she failed to medal with a fifth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games. Since then, however, Reese has won five consecutive world championship events, including Olympic gold in Wednesday’s long jump final in London.
No female track and field athlete in the world has dominated a single event the way Reese has over the past four years. And without a definite rising star in long jump to challenge her, she could continue to reign over the event for many more years.
Reese only received marks on two of her six jumps, picking up fouls on the other four, but only one jump mattered. On her second jump, Reese leaped to a gold-medal-winning distance of 23 feet, 4.5 inches.
Reese has been a dominant force in women’s long jump this season. Reese has the three longest jumps in the world for 2012, including her Olympic-winning distance, which tied for her second-best mark of the season. With no other woman in the world jumping as far as she has this season, all she needed was one jump at her best to win the title.
In 2008, Reese was only starting to emerge as an elite long jumper. Reese became the world’s best, however, throughout the last Olympiad, winning all five world championship events contested from the 2009 IAAF Outdoor World Championships to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Reese won a second outdoor world title in 2011, while she also won gold at both the 2010 and 2012 IAAF Indoor World Championships. Reese also has five of the world’s six best outdoor long jumps since the 2008 Games.
Reese is the only Olympic women’s gold medalist to have also won the past two outdoor world championship titles in the same event (although she will be joined by Russia’s Olga Kaniskina if she wins gold Saturday in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk). That does not even factor in her two indoor world titles, which makes it even more clear that no other female athlete has come close to matching Reese’s level of single-event dominance.
Reese’s gold-medal-winning jump in London was not even her best jump of the season, but the only woman who has jumped farther than that jump in the past four years is Russia’s Olga Kucherenko, who failed to qualify for Russia this year. No other woman has established herself as a legitimate challenger to Reese, which means the 25-year-old could continue to dominate the sport for another Olympiad.
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If Reese can continue to dominate among the next wave of competition, her next step should be to work her way up the history books, as her jumps still pale in comparison to those of former jumpers Galina Chistyakova of Russia, U.S. legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Germany’s Heike Dreschler, all of whom have at least nine jumps farther than Reese’s career-best.
Those numbers are a sign that Reese’s dominance could be a result of being in her prime at a time when the sport is lacking stars, as Chistyakova, Joyner-Kersee and Dreschler all competed against one another. Nonetheless, Reese’s streak of world titles is incredibly impressive, and if she can keep it going for another Olympiad at Rio, she will be an all-time legend.
Dan Hope is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist covering the 2012 Olympic Games. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Hope.