@DaLJBeast is the Twitter handle of Brittney Reese.
By winning in Moscow, the 26-year-old from Mississippi collected an historic third consecutive title and immediately following the victory she donned a ‘Team Reese’ T-shirt with ‘Unleash the Beast’ emblazoned across the back.
It sums her up well, because when it comes to long jumping, in contrast to her almost shy and bookish demeanour away from the sandpit, Brittney Reese lives up to her nickname of ‘The Long Jump Beast’ and she became just the sixth woman to win at the IAAF World Championships on three successive occasions across all events.
In the Long Jump, she surpasses her mentor Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won back-to-back titles in Rome and Tokyo, and leaps past legends Heike Drechsler and Fiona May who also collected dual World titles in the event.
It’s rare air.
“Now I’m in the history books, I’ve done something that nobody’s ever done,” Reese said after her win.
“It’s real amazing. When you are topping someone like Jackie Joyner and Fiona May and Heike, doing what you want to do, accomplishing things and I feel real blessed and honoured that I’ve finally surpassed somebody like that and I’ve got my own spot in the history books.”
Peerless since 2009
Despite a rudimentary technique not found in any manual on a high school coach’s desk, over the past five years Reese has been peerless.
Three World titles, two World indoor victories and the London 2012 Olympic Games crown now place her at the top of a rich women’s Long Jump pecking order.
Ragged on the runway, and with a rugged penultimate stride, once she clears for take-off Reese flies like a bird; and a powerful one at that.
However, what Reese lacks in fluidity on approach, she more than makes up for via the springs in the soles of her feet. The former star college basketball player explodes off the board and once airborne displays a simplicity of technique that is worth teaching.
Fighting off the effects of a cold, Reese scraped through to the final on a count back in the 12th and final qualifying spot. After lots of rest and fluids, she returned to Luzhniki Stadium a different athlete.
Setting the final alight with a 7.01m leap in round two, it withstood the enormous pressure of Nigerian speedster Blessing Okagbare, the 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist, whose consecutive round five and six leaps of 6.99m and 6.96m gave Reese a giant fright.
“I thought that seven metres was going to hold and get me a medal, but I didn’t know it was going to get me the gold. I thought at any moment Blessing was going to come in and jump a seven-metres jump,” reflected Reese.
With a fondness for tattoos, including Olympic rings on her chest along with her nickname ‘Beast’ and inspirational words ‘Believe’ and ‘Born a Champion’ on her wrist and arms, if there’s a more enigmatic winner this week they’ll need to produce something special to beat her.
The credit for the collection of global titles must surely go to her mother Carla, who urged her 17-year-old daughter to leave the basketball court and concentrate on Long Jump in her college years.
It was wise advice.
Perhaps if she had stuck with the hoops and carved out a WNBA career she’d be more famous than she is and despite her athletics feats Reese doesn’t have the profile of many of her US team mates, in fact she is far from the likes of track diva Alison Felix.
It’s not something that bothers the Long Jump queen.
“Sprinting is where everybody pays attention to. Nobody pays attention to jumps and my goal is to get as many people as I can to help pay attention to the Long Jump. I try and jump seven metres every meet in order to bring some attention to it and I know it’s under the radar.”
“I’m pretty sure that nobody knows what I just accomplished and it won’t be nothing to nobody but it’s something to me,” Reese said.
Three consecutive World titles is something, and something big. There are no more tattoos on the agenda, but she does have plans.
“Now I want to continue to try to break the American record and the World record.”
Now that would be something, considering the former mark of 7.49m has been held by Jackie Joyner-Kersee since 1994 and is just three centimetres short of Galina Christyakova’s global standard which has been on the books since 1988.
David Culbert for the IAAF