London 2012: Brigitta Barrett Wins Very Surprising Silver in High Jump
From watching American Brigetta Barrett during the women’s high jump at the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was obvious that she was having fun. After every successful jump, both in qualifying and in the final, she jumped up and down, clapping her hands and whooping excitedly.
Barrett won the silver medal in the event on Saturday, going up against 2011 world champion Anna Chicherova and 2008 veteran Svetlana Shkolina, who finished on either side of Barrett on the medal podium. Barrett jumped a personal best 2.03 meters, or 6'8", losing to Chicherova by about an inch and beating Shkolina by number of failures at their final height.
The women’s high jump lineup had no shortage of pedigree. United States Olympic Trials champion Chaunte Lowe was in it, as was 2008 gold medalist Tia Hellebaut of Belgium. But it was Barrett who stood out, both for her skill and youthful enthusiasm.
She may have been an unknown heading into London, but Barrett’s performance should catapult her into the limelight.
She is going into her senior year at University of Arizona, having won the previous two NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, becoming the first to do the double in two consecutive years. Her mark of 6'7" at the Olympic Trials and her 6'8" in London would both be collegiate records if either meet were sanctioned by the NCAA.
Barrett is a theater arts major at Arizona, and she told The Daily Wildcat (the school’s student newspaper) that she always loved music and dance growing up, prompting her major choice.
“As far as what I wanted, I wanted to be an entertainer,” Barrett said. “I loved to listen to Diana Ross, so I never just wanted to be an athlete.”
She is an entertainer on the track, as seen in her reactions after every jump in London. She gives the impression of a young woman excited to be participating in the Olympics and not afraid to show it.
Her ambition is just as large as her excitement. She told The Daily Wildcat:
“My personal goals coming into college were to be one of the greatest high jumpers the world has ever seen. I understood that I had to win a national championship, I had to break the collegiate record, I had to win the professional national championship, and that I had to get to the Olympics. And now I have to win an Olympic gold medal.”
After finishing second in the high jump her first Olympics at age 20, Barrett has set herself up nicely for a successful future in the event.
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