Janay DeLoach became an Olympic medalist despite coming from a school that only had a dirt track.
When DeLoach participated in track and field for Eielson High School, the team practiced at North Pole High School, about 11 miles north.
She set a still-standing prep state record of 19 feet, 5 inches (5.92 meters) in the girls long jump as a senior in 2003. She later became a world-class competitor in the long jump, earning the bronze medal with a leap of 6.89 meters at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She also qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
DeLoach has competed at six IAAF World Championships, winning a silver medal in 2012 (jumping 6.98 meters) and placing fourth at the World Indoor Championships in 2016. She also claimed USA Indoor national long jump titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and is a talented hurdler.
“I saw the potential like anybody else did — so much of it was natural, and the little bit I helped with was probably about 10 percent,’’ said Jim Cavanaugh, former Eielson head track and field coach, in a July 2011 column in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
“The main thing in the potential she showed was the speed and the ability to carry that speed into a long jump to where she could stay for a long time in the air,’’ Cavanaugh continued. “Her sophomore year, when she started hitting 17 and 18 feet, you could see something happening there. You could see there were greater things to happen.”
She went on to compete at Colorado State University, where as a senior in 2007 she garnered All-America honors in the women’s 100-meter dash and long jump. – Danny Martin