Brittney Reese Press Conference

Brittney Reese


Q: Talk about being in the Olympics.


A: “Being in the Olympics is one of my dreams.   Basically I wanted to just do it for basketball, but after coming to Ole Miss and running track it is a dream come true just to be in the Olympics. I am real grateful and happy to get a chance to go and have Coach Walker go along with me.”


Q: Has it sunk in yet that you are a United States Olympian?


A: “Right now it has sunk in and I am preparing and getting ready to compete to the best of my abilities.”


Q: How has it helped confidence wise finishing first at the Olympic Trials heading into the Olympics?


A: “Finishing first gave me a lot of confidence. Knowing I can compete with some of the best, and by me getting first and by winning first on my last jump, lets me know that I can go out there and compete and be motivated to win.”


Q: You talked about basketball being your original dream for the Olympics. Do you see yourself as a long jumper or still has a basketball player?


A: “I have set basketball aside and now I’m just a long jumper.”


Q: How did you first get into long jumping?


A: “It was my coach back at home. It was basically just a bet. I was already on the track team, I was on the 400 relay team.  It was a bet to see who could jump the furthest.  He offered the winner coke for whoever jumped the furthest, and I jumped the furthest and got the coke.”


Q: What do you do now for training?


A: “Right now I’m preparing with speed and working on my last two steps to get off the floor quicker. I need to reach the 23 feet jump that I need.”


Q: Talk about having the two longest jumps in the world to date.


A: “Having the two longest jumps was surprising. I didn’t know I had the longest jump when I jumped at LSU until coach told me about a week later. Right now it’s good. Hopefully I can have the number one jump and get it back from whoever has the number one jump.  Hopefully I can get it either this weekend or either going into the Olympics.”


Q: What do you need to do in the Olympics for you to have the success that you want?


A: “To have the success that I want I need to be quick off the board, drive my knee more and work a little bit more on my landing. It should be there.”


Q: What is your goal? What would you be happy coming back with?


A: “I will be happy with a medal. It doesn’t have to be the gold medal.  Just knowing that I made it there is already pleasing.  I am going to go out there and do the best I can and try to medal even if it is the gold.”


Q: What is next for you training? Are there any meets for you?


A: “I am leaving on Saturday to go to Europe so I am going to work on stuff over there before going to the Olympics.”


Q: Any family or friends going with you to the Olympics?


A: “My mom, one of my aunts and Coach Walker will be attending.”


Q: How long will you be in Europe? When do you leave for China? How many events do you compete in while in Europe? Do you think that reaching 23 feet is possible while in Europe? Do you know about the field you will be competing against in China?


A: “I will be in Europe 11 days and will leave August 2nd for the Olympics. Mom will be joining me August 17th. I will be competing in two events in Stockholm, Sweden and in Monaco.  I think jumping in Europe will get me more prepared for the 23 feet jump and will help me on what I need to work on. I don’t want to look at the field I will be competing against.”


Q: What are the challenges that you will be facing when you go to China when dealing with the different culture and food?


A: “No when I was in Japan it wasn’t that big a deal.  They provide special chefs for us so the food and other stuff isn’t bad.  They gave us a list of stuff not to do so it shouldn’t be a problem.”


Q: What have you heard about China dealing with the heat and smog?


A: “I heard about the heat, but I don’t think it is that bad considering living in Mississippi is very hot too.  It shouldn’t be a factor.”


Q: What kind of advice have you been receiving on going to China?


A: “Just keep my head up, don’t get a big head and just go out there and be me.”


Q: Talk about your technique.


A: “It’s both arms in the air and pulling your legs through.”


Q: Talk about your decision to go professional.


A: “Coach Walker and I talked about it. I accomplished a lot during my junior year so we figured it was the right time, it was a tough decision because I am a team player and I like to be on a team.  Now I have to ride solo but it was just the right time for me to go.”


Q 18: Will you concentrate strictly on the long jump now that you are a professional?


A: “I am going to do a little bit of sprinting, but just the 100 meters.”

Head Coach Joe Walker


Q: Talk about Brittney’s work ethic and what makes her so special.


A: “She really is special. Anybody that can achieve these type things is a special person. Everybody knows that. She just really brings so many things to the table. God blessed her with amazing athletic ability. She’s very young in the sport. She’s two years in the sport other than the high school career. She’s just beginning to comprehend and learn what she needs to do. You can see how much she has advanced from a year ago to now. She made the World Championship team this time last year, but this time last year she had not jumped over 22 feet. This year she has gone over 22 feet 12 or 13 times. She has gone over the 6.80 meter mark, which is a significant mark, seven times. So she’s really improved. What probably makes her special in my mind is how easy she is to coach and how humble she is as a human being and how fierce she is as a competitor. Sometimes you get either or, or you get somebody who is a nice person who doesn’t have the grit or the grind or whatever you want to describe it to be tough in a competitive situation. Brittney is very humble and a very easy to talk to person, but yet a very fierce competitor. She handles pressure very well. She told me the other night that the Olympic Trials were the most pressure she has ever been under, and yet you saw how she handled it. That’s what makes her so special. It’s a combination of the intangibles and then the God-given ability.”


Q: What did you vision for Brittney when you first met her? Talk about how her career has gone over the last five years that you have known her.


A: “I think anybody that saw Brittney knew that she had a lot of talent. I think anybody that says they could predict this future would just be lying. She’s come quicker and faster than I expected or anticipated, and she’s got a lot more to give. If she can stay injury-free, she’s got a great 10 or 11 more years, and you will see a lot more great performances out of her. She is very young in the sport, and she is doing very well.”


Q: What kind of experience will Brittney get competing internationally as she enters the world stage?


A: “One of the things in our sport is that it would not be good to compete for a month and a half, so where the meets are right now are in Europe. Track is probably the No. 2 sport in Europe, and is a big deal. She has two big grand prix meets that should be on television, but she’ll go to Stockholm and then Monoco, which is in Nice, France. That will give her two chances to get used to traveling. We are on an airplane all day and night and everything else, so I don’t know how that will affect her when we get there, but it will give us a test run on how to handle that type of thing. Plus you are competing against the best in the world again.”


Q: What events did you see in Brittney when you first met her?


A: “We knew that she was a really good jumper. We recruited her as a jumper, and thought she had good speed, but she had better speed than we anticipated. She made the NCAA in the 60 meter dash, but we didn’t participate in that. She ran it a couple of times indoors, and then she had a couple of tight quads muscle outdoor that caused us not to sprint her like we participated. She did anchor our relay, which ran really well, and had some relay legs there where you could see her great speed. I think that is something that we will develop in the future. I always had a very patient aggressive approach toward Brittney. I always thought of it as a four or five year plan because she was so new to the sport and so new to what we were doing. We’ve not tried to milk everything out of her at one time. It’s been a very patient aggressive approach to let her feel her way through this big time situation, and she’s handled it very well.”


Q: Are you going to Europe with her? How will her competing in Japan last year help her get ready for the Olympics?


A: “It will help a lot, and I’m going with her to Europe. She is flying me over there so that I can be with her. Ole Miss is sending me to the Olympics. Last year she went to the World Championships on her own, and I think that shows how much mental strength she has, and she gave her best jump at that competition. That was the first time she had ever gone over 22 feet. The World Championships are practically the Olympics, but just a year ago. It’s the same time thing, but we just put more media attention or pressure on the Olympics. In track and field, it in essence has a World Championship every year now. Her being in that was a significant boost and will help her a lot.”


Q: Being two years in the sport, how big of an accomplishment is this for her making the Olympic team?


A: “I think it’s just phenomenal. With Brittney, it’s easy to get complacent. You get used to her winning, but I guess that is a good thing. At Eugene they had a slogan that said it was the hardest team to make, and I think that is probably true. In our sport, what you have done in the past means nothing. It is just a matter if you can go out there and perform that day, and if you can’t perform that day for whatever reason, you don’t make the team. It’s just tremendous pressure at the Olympic Trials equal or even more so than the Olympics. I think it’s a great accomplishment for her. I can’t be more proud of her, and I can’t think of anybody that I would want good things to happen to than Brittney Reese because of the type person she is. It’s just a pleasure and a joy to get to have the opportunity to work with her.”


Q: What does this mean for Ole Miss?


A: “I would think that people would understand that this is one of the things at the top of the line athletically. It’s hard to compare sports. To have an Ole Miss athlete, a Mississippi athlete, a homegrown athlete make the U.S. Olympic team and have a chance to medal and be doing the things she is doing and the way she is representing us, is just a positive for Ole Miss, for Gulfport, Mississippi, for the state of Mississippi and for young people in general because she is such a outstanding role model and person to represent us.”


Q: Is it unheard of to see such a vast amount of improvement in two years like Brittney has?


A: “Well, I guess that is what I am most proud of as a coach was that I was a good steward of God’s talent because he gave me a lot to work with. She has improved from 20-08.00 in high school to 22-09.75, and we think that the 23 foot mark is going to come soon. It has been a fun ride. I’m convinced that we are at the tip of the iceberg and not the end of it. I think you are going to see her jump farther and farther as she gets stronger and learns the event more, matures a bit athletically and mentally. I think good things are ahead.”


Q: Do you know much about the field, and will Brittney be considered one of the favorites?


A: “She’s got the third longest jump in the world right now. There are three Russians, a Portuguese, a Brazilian and a couple of people like that. There are probably six, seven or eight people that have a chance of medaling. It’s similar to the Olympic Trials in that it depends on who is going to show up that day and put everything together. I like Brittney’s chances just as good as anybody’s. One of the things that Brittany and I emphasize a lot, which she listens well, is that we are trying to be Brittany Reese. We are not worried about the Russians, Brazilians or Portuguese. We can’t run a defense, so we can’t beat anybody that way, so it’s all about Brittney Reese. If Brittney can go over there and compose herself, then Brittney will be in good shape.”


Q: What were you told about Brittney from previous coaches when Brittney was coming to Ole Miss?


A: “Coach Jones did a good job with her in high school. Coach Jones knew she was a good athlete. He has been a great friend, coach and mentor to her, so again, anything that you hear about Brittney from anybody is going to be positive.”


Q: What kind of jump will Brittney need to medal at the Olympics?


A: “A lot depends on what the jumping conditions are. The 22-09.75 at Eugene with the wind the way it was is much better than the 22-09.00 she jumped at LSU because she had very good wind conditions at LSU. If you watched or kept up with the trials, all the jumpers had to make mental and emotional adjustments to the wind. At one time, the flags were going both ways. It was tough out there. You could see the streamers, and it was kind of chaotic. Brittney had three jumps that would have made the team. The two other jumpers that made the team only had one jump each that would have made it, so to me that tells us that she can handle the adverse conditions and the pressure. Again, a lot depends on that situation. I’m fully confident that Brittney could jump 23 feet, so it won’t surprise me. It surprises me that we haven’t done it in the last couple of meets, but that has been due to the wind conditions. At Drake it was wind conditions, and at Eugene we couldn’t make the jump. We are not trying to jump 23 feet. We just go back to the things that we have said that we are trying to do our best, hit the perfect jump. If Brittney does what she is supposed to do and capable of doing, the good jump will take care of itself. When you are trying to do something, it can get in they way mentally, so we try to relax and just be an athlete on meet day.”


Q: What is the qualifying process?


A: “We went through the same thing at the U.S. Olympic Trails, which is very good. Some of the events weren’t the same as they would be at the Olympics, but the long jump was. There would be what they call long jump qualifying, and they will simply take the top 12 marks. There will be an automatic standard, and if you get that on your first jump, second jump, third jump, you’re automatically in the meet. Usually there aren’t 12 that hit the automatic, so they take the 12 best. Then two days later, she will jump. She jumps on the 19th and 22nd of August. That was the same way it was at the Olympic Trials. It took three jumps to guarantee she was in, and for nerves and emotions, it would have been good to hit the automatic first. I was just glad that we got three runs on the runway because I knew the wind conditions were going to be a little different, and that gave us a chance to learn and adjust. She handled it very well.”


Q: Brittney has said that she has been working on her last two steps over recent weeks. How is that coming along?


A: “Everything is getting better. She is getting better each time. Her final jump the other day was obviously her best jump, and it was her best technical jump. The long jump seems to be a simple event, but there are so many factors that go into a jump. You have to be fast down the runway, accurate and hit those last two steps because that is what sets up the angle that you are going. Once you leave the board, your center of mass has a parabola that it follows just according to the laws of physics. You do a little bit in the air that helps you from over-rotating when you land. That’s why the speed on the runway and the last two steps are critical.”


Q: How do you handle your excitement when coaching an Olympian? Has it always felt the same for each Olympian?


A: “I’ve been very fortunate and been very lucky to have athletes that I’ve coached to be in the Olympics from 1976 until now, except 2004. Savante’ (Stringfellow) probably would have made that team, but was injured. Brittney’s rejuvenated me. I’m probably more excited about this one than any other one except ’76 since that was my very first one with Larry Myricks from Mississippi College. I just like being around Brittney. I like coaching Brittney. I just like being around her. I like watching her compete and grow. So I’ve been rejuvenated. I’m back like I was in ’76, 20-something years old. It’s exciting to me. I know I sound redundant saying it, but she’s just a fun person to be associated with. I’m just enjoying the ride and love working with her.”







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