On her final jump, DeLoach qualifies for second Olympic Games
Four years after qualifying for the London Games on her left leg, DeLoach today qualified for the Rio Games on her right leg in thrilling fashion at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2016 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductee punched her ticket back to the biggest stage for track and field after finishing third in the women’s final with a fabulous final jump.
Sitting in seventh place before her final attempt, she leapfrogged three competitors with a mark of 22 feet, 9 inches to secure the last spot on Team USA.
“I knew I had it in me and when push comes to shove I have trained for this for a very long time, even though I switched legs,” she told me. “When I got on the runway I just told myself, ‘Calm down. You got this. You just do what you’ve been training to do and you can get the job done.’
“And then I prayed, ‘Please, God, let me make this.’”
DeLoach, of Eielson High fame, was forced to change her tradition takeoff leg after breaking her left foot in 2013. She had two surgeries in 2014 before finally abandoning the left leg that made her a star.
Qualifying for different Olympics on different legs is something that just doesn’t happen.
Pushed by passion and fueled by faith, she has made the seemingly impossible a reality.
“I did it again, and it felt just as good today as it did back in 2012,” DeLoach said.
Trials winner Brittney Reece [23-11 3/4] and second place Tianna Bartoletta [23-0 1/2] round out Team USA.
In 2012, Reece won the gold and DeLoach won the bronze.
For DeLoach, her focus will now change to her second event at the Trials, the 100-meter hurdles. Qualifying begins Thursday.
When she switched legs in the long jump, the transition was made easier by the fact that she jumped off her right leg in the hurdles.
Now it’s just a matter of using the right technique for the right event.
“Sometimes I would hurdle my way down the runway and jump like hurdler instead of jump like a jumper,” DeLoach said with a laugh. “It goes well together. It’s very strong leg and I know I can count on it.”