Brittney Reese will have to wait a few months to try and capture an Olympic gold, but she'll get to hand out a few medals in the mean time.
The four-time and current long jump world champion will be on hand at the Maryland Class 4A track and field state championships Saturday at Morgan State to meet some athletes and take pictures with the winners. Reese trained for two hours at Coppin State on Friday as she continues to prepare for the Olympic trials in late June.
"I'm going to be down there by the long jump pit and providing motivation to all the jumpers, then go over to the awards tent," Reese said by phone Friday. "I think it's really important to go out and meet the kids and see what they're doing to see the future of the sport."
Reese said she enjoys making appearances at these events because she was in a similar position less than 10 years ago. Gatorade named her Mississippi Player of the Year for track during her senior season at Gulfport High. She then attended Gulf Coast Community College for two years before finishing at the University of Mississippi.
Reese set the American indoor record in the long jump by jumping 23 feet, 8 3/4 inches at the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. It was the longest jump inside since 1989 and the third longest indoor jump all-time. It made Reese the first woman to win gold at back-to-back indoor championships.
"It was very cool to see where all my hard work has gotten me," Reese said of the jump, which broke the United States record of one of her childhood idols, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. "It shows that it has paid off."
Reese has captured gold in the long jump in all four World Championships since 2009. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, she had the best qualifying jump, but finished fifth in the final.
The former Ole Miss star said she didn't have fresh legs in 2008 because of the grind of the long college season that preceded those Olympic games. This year, keeping up with regular training has been easier and Reese feels much more rested and fresh as she prepares for the trials and, hopefully, for London later this summer.
"This year will be different because I've been a professional so I know what to expect and how to win," Reese said. "I'm more excited to have the chance to compete and win as opposed to just getting there like I was last time."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times