EUGENE, Ore. – Young athletes around the world dream of one day competing for their country at the Olympic Games.
For Ole Miss junior sprinter Isiah Young, that dream became a reality on Sunday. And for former Rebel long jump star Brittney Reese, her dream was realized for the second time already in her young career.
Both the current and former Rebel finished top three in their event at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday to become members of Team USA for the London Olympics later this summer.
Young crossed the finish line third in the 200 meters behind professionals Wallace Spearmon (Saucony) and Maurice Mitchell (Nike). Young’s time of 20.16 shattered his own school record of 20.32 he set when he won the SEC Championship earlier this year. The Junction City, Kan., native placed fourth at the recent NCAA Championships, which to him was a disappointment.
“Coming down the home straightaway, I tried to keep up with (Spearmon) and finish strong,” Young said in a TV interview immediately after the race. “I just didn’t let nationals get to me. I put it behind me, kept working hard, and now I’m going to London.”
Reese launched her body an amazing 23 feet,5.5 inches through the air to win a fifth straight U.S. outdoor title on Sunday. That jump is the longest in the world this year, and she is the favorite to win gold in London.
Reese made the Olympics for the second time in her career after competing for Team USA in Beijing in 2008, following her junior year at Ole Miss. Since finishing fifth in the long jump in Beijing, Reese has won two outdoor and two indoor world championships, in addition to her now five straight U.S. outdoor titles.
Originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Reese has trained in Oxford since going pro early in 2008. She also continued taking classes and graduated from Ole Miss last year.
“We’re just blessed; God’s been good to us,” said outgoing Ole Miss head coach Joe Walker, who is also Reese’s personal coach. “It was awesome. Reese had a phenomenal day. Isiah’s been coming around. He’s always had a lot of potential. He’s young to the sport, and he keeps learning and learning. He’s really coachable and listens well. We knew he was poised to do something good, so it wasn’t totally a surprise. He really showed up on the big stage.”
Another former Rebel came very close to making Team USA. Former NCAA champion Antwon Hicks placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles on Saturday, finishing just .06 of a second shy of making the Olympics.
Young is the seventh member of the Ole Miss track and field family in the history of the program to qualify for the Olympic Games. Others include Reese, Allan Ince (1988, Barbados), Gary Kinder (1988, USA), Alvin Haynes (1992, Barbados), Tony Dees (1992, USA) and Savante’ Stringfellow (2000, USA).
Reese is the first Ole Miss track and field athlete to qualify for two Olympics.
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