She is arguably one of the most talented in the sport. Turns out Brittney Reese has managed to remain at the top of an event where less than inches separate the competition. This talented long jumper fills us in on her journey, dreams, and what it takes to be the best in this weeks 14 questions.
PRJ: Well first things first: How are you doing?
I’m doing well. Right now I’m in Europe doing some Diamond League meets.
PRJ: How did you get started running and jumping?
I first started running in the 7th grade but I didn’t start jumping until the 11th grade. My high school coach took the basketball team members that were already on the track team out to the track to see who could long jump the farthest for a Coca Cola.
I was already doing the 400 and thought this was my opportunity to get out of it. So I asked could I try and he said no but I kept on asking him could I try it until he finally said yes. When I jumped he was shocked and said go to it again. Once I did it again I had convinced him that the 400 wasn’t for me.
PRJ: How hard was it to leave basketball to focus on track?
Everyone knows that basketball is my first love. So leaving basketball was a tough decision for me. I talked to my mom about it and she thought that my career was in track and field. Turns out that she knew exactly what was best for me.
PRJ: What is it like being a professional athlete now?
I like being a professional athlete. Being able to travel the world is a big part of being a professional athlete in track and field. I have finally gotten used to the traveling because when I first turned pro I used to be scared to fly now I am ok and don’t mind it as much.
PRJ: Have you treated yourself to anything special since turning pro?
No I haven’t. I have been saving my money for a special something I might be able to get by my birthday or Christmas.
PRJ: You’ve had a pretty amazing run lately – winning the World Title in Berlin last year, World Indoor title in Doha this year, and winning USA Outdoor Nationals – what’s the been key?
I would say the key to my success is by staying humble. Keeping my head on straight and training hard that’s all I can do. The women’s long jump is a tough field and every championship is up for grabs. It only takes one jump.
PRJ: So are you aiming for 2012 now?
Yes I am. I missed out on getting a medal in 2008 and I plan on not letting that happening again in 2012.
PRJ: Where are you training, with whom, and why?
I train at the University of Mississippi with my coach Joe Walker Jr. The reason I train with him is because he was my college coach. He is the person that has gotten me to where I am now and without him I wouldn’t be here. I believe in him and he believes in me.
PRJ: What are your thoughts on Allen Johnson’s recent retirement?
Allen Johnson is one of the best hurdlers of all time and its sad to hear about his retirement. I think it would be great for him to help future up-and-coming athletes in the sprints and hurdles. I wish him all the best.
PRJ: When was your “break through” – because it seems like you were good in college during your sophomore year you really ratcheted it up.
I think my “break through” was the World Championships in 2009. At that meet I really proved to myself that I could compete with the best. Jumping my PB 7.10 there at a major competition was the best feeling ever.
PRJ: What were the 2008 Olympic Trials like for you and what did it feel like when you made the team?
The 2008 Olympic Trials were the first major win for me at being professional so it was real important to me. My goal was to make the team but winning it put the icing on the cake. I was just so happy that day.
PRJ: We see track athletes one year win medals and then disappear, and then maybe come back — you have been consistent, what is among your keys to consistency?
I would think the key to consistency is that I have a dream that I want to accomplish and with the grace of God I will not stop until it is accomplished. I watch film before every meet sometimes at home. I try to go out to meets with already knowing what needs to happen before it happens.
PRJ: What’s it like to be at the forefront of the conversation when people discuss long jumping on the international level?
It’s a great feeling and hopefully it can stay that way for a long time. I work hard at what I do and for people to acknowledge and appreciate it is even better.
PRJ: What have the last two or three years taught you about yourself?
What I have learned about myself these past two or three years is that I am a competitor and I love competing. I used to be scared because I knew my competitors could pull out a big jump anytime. I have now recognize that after my first World Championships in 2007 that I also can pull out those big jumps at any moment.
Allen Johnson announced his retirement on Saturday, said goodbye to a professional track career that seems the stuff of sports fiction.
“It’s just come to the point where my body can’t take it anymore,” said Johnson in a trackside interview.
“Maybe I can coach some hurdlers or some sprinters… give something back. I’m going to miss it, I really am, but it was fun,” added the former World and Olympic 110 meter hurdles champion.
One of the interesting things about his career is the University of Carolina graduate never won an individual NCAA title during his time at Chapel Hill but he quickly became a star as professional.
On Saturday, one of the unique chapters in professional track and field history closed when Allen, 39, announced his retirement after winning Olympic gold in Atlanta, and turned in countless outstanding performances.
He finishes with four World Outdoor Titles, three World Indoor Titles, finished the seasoned ranked number one four times, and one of greatest performances ever with a personal best of 12.92 seconds just .02 shy of the current American Record - is among the best in track history.
Few have been so good, for so long. In 2005, Johnson earned a bronze at the World Outdoor Championships at the age of 34. Johnson has run under 13 seconds more than an hurdler in history - nine times.
Allen showed grace even in defeat. I am him picking himself after falling in the early rounds of the 2004 Athen Games preventing him from competing for a second Olympic gold medal.
Allen never was one for attention. Yet he’s getting it now.
American record holder David Oliver said on his Twitter account, “Just talked to Allen Johnson, sad to see him call it a career and retire, a real genuine dude…”
“Allen Johnson is an inspiration for competition as lifelong pursuit. He embodies all the qualities you could ask for from a champion. Above all, he conducted himself with class, on and off the track”, said Doug Logan CEO of USA Track and Field.
“He won and lost with dignity, although clearly he won more than he lost. Allen set the standard for hurdling at the World and Olympic level and has inspired a generation of hurdlers, from the U.S. to Cuba to China, who continue to chase his achievements. That chase will continue for years to come.”
Lolo Jones once said, “”In track and field I most admire Allen because I have watched him growing up. I remember Allen, specifically, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. I remember how he carried himself on TV and how he represented himself and his country was amazing.”
While Friday marked a bookend to Johnson’s career, to really appreciate his story you have to have met the man only once. He is widely known in track circles for mentoring young athletes on how to make it in the track game and befriending competitors. I’ve seen few hearts as big and as humble an athlete as Johnson.
The dashing, dazzling runs may be gone but Johnson’s contributions to this sport will never be forgotten.
David Oliver sizzling performance stands out.
INDIANAPOLIS- David Oliver has been named the USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week after he equaled the American Record in the men’s 110m hurdles at the 2010 Nike Prefontaine Classic at historic Hayward Field on campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.
Oliver, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 110m hurdles, tied the American record of 12.90 set by Dominique Arnold on July 11, 2006 in Lausanne. That time is the third-fastest time ever in the event.
One week before the Prefontaine Classic, Oliver won his second national title in the same event at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Oliver’s winning time of 12.93 is the fastest winning time at the championships since Allen Johnson won in 12.92 in 1996.
Oliver is the 2010 World Indoor Championships bronze medalist and USA Indoor championships runner- up in the 60m hurdles.
Now in its ninth year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
Winners: January 13, Jen Clayton; January 20, Shalane Flanagan; January 27, Nolan Shaheed; February 3, Bernard Lagat; February 10, Bernard Lagat; February 17, Shalane Flanagan; February 24, Amber Campbell; March 3, Amber Campbell; March 10, Phil Raschker; March 17, Ashton Eaton; March 31, Lisa Koll; April 7, Queen Harrison; April 14, Magdalena Lewy Boulet; April 21, Bershawn Jackson; April 28, Phoebe Wright; May 5, Chris Solinsky; May 12, Walter Dix; May 26, Cory Martin; June 2, Chaunte Lowe; June 9, Bernard Lagat; June 16, Queen Harrison; June 30, Kara Patterson; July 7, David Oliver.
BEST MARKS WEEK ENDING JULY 4
100 - 10.19 Mike Rodgers (Nike) - Reims, FRA 6/30
200 - 19.72 Walter Dix (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
400 - 46.08 Jeremy Davis (unat) - Sollentuna, SWE 7/1
800 - 1:45.53er Khadevis Robinson (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
Mile - 3:51.74 Andrew Wheating (unat) - Eugene, OR 7/3
5000 - 13:08.11 Chris Solinsky (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
110H - 12.90 David Oliver (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 =AMERICAN RECORD
400H - 49.04 Justin Gaymon (Nike) - Uden, HOL 7/3
HJ - 2.27/7-5.25 Dusty Jonas (Nike) - Cork, IRE 7/3
PV - 5.55/18-2.5 Jeremy Scott (Nike) - Patra, GRE 6/30
LJ - 8.41/27-7.25 Dwight Phillips (Trackstar Apparel) - Eugene, OR 7/3
SP - 22.41/73-6.25 Christian Cantwell (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 World leader
DT - 66.95/219-8 Jason Young (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
100 - 10.83 Carmelita Jeter (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
200 - 22.92 Ebonie Floyd-Broadnax (Nike) - Sollentuna, SWE 7/1
400 - 50.27 Allyson Felix (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
800 - 1:58.22 Phoebe Wright (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
1500 - 4:13.32 Erin Donohue (Nike) - Cork, IRE 7/3
3000SC - 9:32.35 Bridget Franek (unat) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
5000 - 14:49.08 Shalane Flanagan (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
100H - 13.26 Nichole Denby (Speed Dynamics) - Patra, GRE 6/30
400H - 53.03 Lashinda Demus (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
HJ - 2.00/6-6.75 Chaunte Lowe (Nike) - Madrid, ESP 7/2
PV - 4.48/14-8.25 Lacy Janson (unat) - Eugene, OR 7/3
LJ - 6.60/21-8 Funmi Jimoh (Nike) - Reims, FRA 6/30
TJ - 14.33/47-0.25 Erica McLain (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3 U.S. leader
DT - 55.47/182-0 Aretha Thurmond (Nike) - Madrid, ESP 7/2
HT - 70.21/230-4 Amber Campbell (Nike) - Eugene, OR 7/3
JT - 65.90/216-2 Kara Patterson (Asics) - Eugene, OR 7/3
A Black History Month Q & A with Olympic gold medalist Allen Johnson.
During the span of his thirteen year track and field career, so far the Allen Johnson has won an Olympic gold, a total of 11 national titles and 11 World titles, safely securing his place as one of the greatest.
What makes the man larger than life is how hard he puts into all that he does. During his career, the 110 meter hurdles has not been just satisfied with being a champion, he has shown almost unparalled longevity. On the track, he has the qualities of a champion: stamina, dominance and clutch.
Off of the track, Johnson has given track & field a professional example especially for younger athletes. He is known on the circuit for advising younger runners on the sport’s potential pitfalls and how to survive in the track and field game. Anyone that talks to him knows his distinct voice. You know the confidence, but do you know the smile and infectious laugh?
We make such stars out of athletes that they turn into gods. It’s refreshing to speak with Allen. In a time when no one in the world wants to be a role model, I knew here was man that never balked at that challenge. There is something important and rewarding about being a role model and those who fill such massive shoes.
PreRaceJitters.com had the opportunity to catch up with the Allen Johnson, and here is what the hurdling legend had to say:
PRJ: 2009 has already been historic with the election of President Barack Obama. What does Black History Month mean to you and why do you think it is important to have a month to honor Black heritage?
AJ: Black History Month is important because it is a time to acknowledge the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans. There were times in the past when our achievements went un-noticed and were not talked about in the history books. By acknowledging the historical contributions of African Americans, one will have fuller picture of history.
PRJ: How important do you feel it is to use your platform as an Olympic gold medalist to make a positive influence on the future generations of African-Americans.
AJ: I feel it’s very important for me to use my influence as a professional athlete to influence as many young people as I can. The scars of segregation still exist in the African American community and I try to stress to young people that they can do anything they put their minds to accomplishing. That there will be barriers in life and that if you dream and believe that they can be whatever they want.
PRJ: Were there any public figures that you felt were role models or someone in particular that you looked up?
AJ: I must say that when I was young I didn’t pay much attention to public figures much, but the person I looked up to was my mother. My mother had the gumption to strive for a career in the business world in a time when business was very much a White male-dominated field. I feel she is part of a generation of women that broke barriers and paved the way for those that came after her.
PRJ: How important was Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympic performance that broke the color barrier?
AJ: Jesse Owens’ performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was important in breaking the color barrier because it showed that African Americans were not less of an athlete than their white counterparts. It was very significant also because it was an African American that showed to Nazi Germany that the Arian race was not superior and that all people are equal.
PRJ: Do you think its important for you and people like you, who have a strong understanding of your heritage, to influence those that may not be as aware, so that they know about African-American history?
AJ: I think i t is very important to let all people know about African American history for the simple fact the it is history and we need to all we can about what has happened before us.
PRJ: This is your 13th year as a professional hurdler, during that time you have won an Olympic gold medal, countless world and national titles. How have you embraced being a role model too so many?
AJ: Yes, I have really embraced being a role model. I understand that because of my position that I will have some who will look to me for direction and even imitate some of what I do. So it’s important to me to set a good example for young people to follow.
PRJ: On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the highest, how is your training progressing based on your plans for the 2009 and why?
AJ: At this point my training is going pretty well. It’s hard to give it a number, but I am on track for achieving my goal of gaining a berth on the World Championship Team competing this summer in Berlin, Germany.
PRJ: It was pleasure to work with you, and wish you the best in 2009.
July 17, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Withdrawal from the Olympic Trials has been setting in since returning from Eugene and coming down from the adrenaline rush. Part of that is because eight days is a long time sleeping on a hotel mattress, and I have finally gotten some good sleep since returning home.
I’ve found myself communicating with colleagues that shared the Eugene experience because we shared something very special in Eugene ‘08, which turned out to be a de facto track and field national holiday.
What is there not to miss? Eight days of riveting action on the track, coupled with an exhilarating atmosphere. The days were spent comparing and contrasting athletes of today and the past, while interviewing the world’s best track athletes about the greatest sport on the planet.
Here are a few pictures of the athletes and the action.
All pictures and content by Jay Hicks.
July 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Today was definitely a hard day at the office for the athletes, but who would have ever thought that Tyson Gay would not be in the 200-meter final? It was hard to watch a warrior fall, but after the 100s, I was wondering how much energy all of those sub 10 second 100-meter races took out of him.
The injury is reported as a ‘severe cramp’, and everyone should hope that is the extent of the injury. Tyson was complaining of soreness in the hamstring during the 100-meter rounds.
The men’s 200-meter is wide open. Wallace Spearmon is a likely figure to win the race, but Walter Dix has been running extremely well. And don’t count out the reigning 2000 Olympic champion Shawn Crawford. The winning time will probably be under 20 seconds.
Former Olympian Allen Johnson, did not make it to the finals of the 110- hurdles due to an injury.
Everything seems to be falling into place for Lolo Jones in the women’s 100 hurdles. She told me that she is feeling good and feels that she is in a good place going into the finals. The reigning Olympic champion, Joanna Hayes, is putting together her race through the rounds, so look for a good final tomorrow.
By Jay Hicks.
February 29, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Besides national indoor titles, roster spots were also at stake this past weekend. The top two finishers in each event go on to compete at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships for Team USA on March 7-9 in Valencia, Spain.
Many of U.S.A.’s biggest names did not participate in the indoor season because it is an Olympic year. Their absence means the typically much smaller appearance fees paid at indoor meets was not worth the time needed to prepare for the outdoor season.
The indoor national championship meet was marked by low attendance, a shame considering the fabulous facility in Boston. Even with the smaller crowds, there were some impressive performances. And here’s why.
Money. Besides national titles and $2,500, $1,500, $500 payouts to the medalists, additional future money was at stake in Boston. Victors in Spain will collect $40,000, and bronze is worth $10,000. Not bad for a day’s work at the office.
The Visa Championship is a points-based system awarded on performances and finishes for men and women. Lolo Jones and Adam Nelson were the winners, and each went home with a $25,000 check.
Lolo Jones is making her case to be the next great American hurdler now that Gail Devers has somewhat retired. Jones, the defending women’s 60-meter hurdles champ, won easily. Lolo bested Candice Davis by two-hundredths of a second in 7.88. Her win gave her the 1,194 points on the scoring table to take the women’s Visa Championship’s $25,000 prize.
The men’s shot put came in with big expectations. Cantwell, Hoffa, and Nelson have been throwing out of the universe, and at the same time, breathing excitement into the often over-looked field event. A small, but select, field gathered as Christian Cantwell defended his indoor title by defeating Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson, the winner of the men’s Visa Championship points’ race.
The men’s sprints were an ensemble of new, upcoming names and faces. In his first professional season, two-time NAIA champion Michael Rodgers won over Leroy Dixon in the 60-meter dash in 6.54 seconds after Leonard Scott, the defending world champion, pulled his right hamstring during his semifinal heat.
David Neville won the men’s 400 in 46.34, besting Greg Nixon’s 46.72 in the two-heat final.
Jennifer Stuczynski continues to build the case that she is the sport’s new queen of pole vault. She easily won the women’s pole vault with a vault of 15 feet, 5 inches over Jillian Schwartz in 14 feet, 9 inches.
The men’s 800-meters was the most exciting event of the two-day meet. KD and Symmonds have big show-downs every time they compete, and this time was no exception.
Four-time U.S. outdoor champion Khadevis Robinson held off a fierce kick down the home stretch by Nicholas Symmonds by a mere hundredth of a second to win the men’s 800 meters in 1:46.95. Whew!
37-year-old Allen Johnson was narrowly edged for second place in the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Winner, Anwar Moore, blazed to victory in 7.47 seconds, the fastest time by an American this year.
Rob Myers led most of the way and won the men’s 1500 in 3:40.8.
Amy Acuff is so good that she is often over-looked. She won the women’s High Jump with a 6 feet, 3.5 inch leap for her fourth overall and second consecutive indoor national title.
For more information, including complete results and athlete quotes, visit www.usatf.org