DeLoach’s off foot puts her on the right track to Beijing
And now she’s going to the IAAF World Championships.
The world-class long jumper from Fairbanks secured a spot on Team USA and will head to Beijing, China, in August after placing third today at the USATF Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
She jumped 22 feet, 9.75 inches to win her flight and finish behind only former world champions Brittney Reece and Tianna Bartoletta in a field of 18 women.
DeLoach, of Eielson High fame, owns a silver medal from Worlds and a bronze from the Olympics in her career, yet today’s result was perhaps the most impressive if you consider she abandoned her traditional takeoff of jumping off her left foot this year and now jumps with her right foot.
“I’m real happy with it, mostly because it’s been a pretty rough last couple of years with the injuries, the surgeries, switching legs altogether and trying to get my balance of going off the other side,” she told me. “I don’t really know of anyone else who has done it and switched legs.”
She’s as close to an ambidextrous long jumper as there is in track and field.
“I can honestly say I’m almost a 7-meter jumper on both legs,” she said, proudly.
DeLoach didn’t plan to switch jumping legs until she broke her left ankle two years ago. She had two surgeries and spent a ton of time training and rehabbing but the injury never fully healed and this year she made the commitment to jump solely off her right foot.
“Rest in peace left leg,” she said with a laugh.
Switching jumping legs is no joke, though. Track is her life and her profession.
“I wasn’t going to do it unless I really believed I could do it,” DeLoach said.
The transition wasn’t always pretty, or fun.
“I had so much self-doubt at the beginning of the year,” she said. “In all honesty you have your good days and you have your bad days, but it’s the bad days where you have to push through and keep your head up no matter what, even if you feel like ‘What’s the point?’ because I’ve realized at the end of the day I had it in me to still jump far with my right leg. I did what I had to do to get here and it’s all been worth it.”