Brittney Reese: Home Grown Olympian
Gulfport native Brittney Reese is a favorite to shatter records in the Olympic long jump competition next week.
News 25’s Katarina Luketich caught up with Brittney’s mother this morning as she prepares to board a flight to Rio to see her daughter compete.
Brittney Reese’s jersey from her days at Gulfport High School hangs outside the gym where she started as a basketball player, but eventually landed on the track and field team as she was trying to improve her game on the court, an unexpected path that would eventually land her an Olympic gold medal in the long jump.
Now the 29-year-old South Mississippi native is hoping that history not only repeats itself, but Reese is hoping to break the world record during her third run in the Olympics.
Her mother, Carla, is getting ready to fly to Rio this weekend to watch her daughter make the jump of her life. “It is really exciting. I am so happy for her. I am so proud of her because she’s giving it another shot.”
After winning gold in the 2012 London games, it wasn’t an easy road to Rio. She underwent hip surgery in 2013 and even considered retiring. Reese’s coach recommended she talk to a psychiatrist to help her take a leap of faith and restore the level of confidence that she could again perform at the level she did before her injury. “She talks to her and they stay in contact with each other to help her build her motivation. When she jumped that 7.31, I knew she was ready,” said Carla.
She’s referring to the best jump of Brittney’s career. At the Olympic trials in July, she surpassed the U.S. trails mark set back in 1988 with a jump of 7.31 meters. That’s 11 feet and 23 and three quarters inches. That’s still nine inches short of the world record, but her mom says she’s determined to beat it.
Although the thought of that world record is looming in the back of Reese’s mind, in a press conference Wednesday, the Olympian said she’s not overthinking it. “It’s just me going out there having fun. I don’t feel any pressure. I know what I’m capable of. So, I know if I go out there and just do what I’m supposed to do, everything else will just fall into place, but I don’t feel any pressure.”
One thing is for sure, Reese’s broad fan base here in South Mississippi and her proud mother will be watching closely as she stretches to make her mark in history in Rio.
Two Gulfport businesses are hosting watching parties next week for residents to cheer Reese on. They will be August 16th and 17th at both the Buffalo Wild Wings and Mugshots locations in Gulfport. Long jump events begin around 6.
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