You know all that hype hurdler Lolo Jones received leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London? Well, perhaps Brittney Reese deserved a bit of that attention as well.
After all, she was a two-time world champion in the long jump, and the favorite to win in the event entering London. On Wednesday, the 25-year-old Reese lived up to her billing, taking home long-jump gold by jumping 7.12 meters (23 feet, 4 1-2 inches) on her second attempt of the final round, a mark no other competitor could match.
Reese became only the fourth American woman to medal in the event and the second to win Olympic gold, joining 1988 gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. That's pretty good company.
"It's a surreal moment," Reese said after the win. "I got very emotional -- you do when you're representing your country."
Reese finished fifth in the long jump in Beijing back in 2008 and was devastated after failing to meet her goal of medaling. But she bounced back, thanks to the support of family and friends from her home in Mississippi and, of course, a heavy dose of hard work.
"I had the whole Gulf Coast behind me ... and I wanted to come out here and do that for them," she said.
Reese, now thrust into the national spotlight and added to a short list of gold-medal-winning U.S. long jumpers, could have chosen a much different path for herself growing up, but decided to listen to her mother, who guided her away from pursuing a Division I basketball scholarship and toward the track and field team at Ole Miss.
Joining Reese on the podium for the medal ceremony was fellow American Janay Deloach, who earned the bronze medal with a final-round jump of 6.89 meters (22 feet, 7 1-4 inches). Russian Elena Sokolova won silver medal with a personal-best jump of 7.07 meters (23 feet, 2 1-2 inches).