The long jump is one of the most exciting discipline in athletics. The London Olympics will feature a good mix of upcoming and current athletes, going head-to-head for a memorable competition.
Women’s Long Jump
Brittney Reese (7.12m SB outdoors, 7.23m SB indoors) has dominated the women’s long jumping scene the past few years. Reese made her international debut at the Osaka World Championships in 2007, where she placed eighth in the final, as the Russian troika of Tatyana Lebedeva (Татьяна Лебедева), Lyudmila Kolchanova (Людмила Колчанова), and Tatyana Kotova (Татьяна Котова) made a clean sweep of the medals. Since then, the unorthodox former basketball player had won two World titles (2009 and 2011) and two World indoor crowns (2010 and 2012).
Although the American has shown chinks in her armor in some long jump competitions, Reese has displayed nerves of steel in the championships that count the most. Only an Olympic medal eludes her collection. The rest of the long jump field will be hard-pressed to top a motivated, healthy and techinically-proficient Brittney Reese.
This is hard for me to say, considering that I’m a big fan of Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина: The American is poised to win the Olympic long jump title.
But then again, Reese had shown erratic jumping in the past. She could be beaten in a major championship. The in-form Russian, Olga Kucherenko Ольга Кучеренко (7.03m SB outdoors, 6.91m SB indoors); the defending Olympic champion, Maurren Higa Maggi (6.85m SB); and the prolific Darya, are at the vanguard of Reese’s challengers.
Klishina (L), Kucherenko (C), and Maggi (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen, sport-vlg.ru, and Agência Brazil/Janine Moraes)
Kucherenko, who has a personal best of 7.13m from 2010 and the silver medalist from Daegu, has displayed sterling form this year. Reese, Anna Nazarova (7.11m), Chelsea Hayes (7.10m), Nastassia Mironchyk – Ivanova (7.08m), Kucherenko, Janay DeLoach and Veronika Shutkova have all gone beyond 7 meters this season. Brazil’s Maggi has experienced a resurgence the past two years. A 7.26m jumper at her best, The 36-year old Maggi had gone tantalizingly close to 7 meters in 2011.
Note: Klishina and Kucherenko did not make the Russian Olympic Team.
These athletes are in the running for a spot on the podium.
Sostene Moguenara (6.88m SB outdoors) and Shara Proctor (6.84m SB outdoors, 6.89 SB/PB indoors) have also displayed excellent form in 2012.
Although slowed down by an ankle injury last season, the 21-year old Klishina has the makings of a future champion. The 2011 European Indoor champion has an outdoor personal best of 7.05m from 2010. Darya is the second-best junior long jumper of all-time, behind the great Heike Drechsler. A healthy Klishina could foil Reese’s Olympic dreams.
But then again, Klishina and Kucherenko were not selected to the Russian Olympic Team, as they finished below the top three at their Olympic Trials. The Russian squad possess such depth that they can make do without a talented junior and an in-form athlete.
A total of eight jumpers have gone beyond 7 meters this season. Reese is my top choice for Olympic gold, with Nazarova and Mironcyk-Ivanova for silver and bronze, respectively.
Top Three Predictions
Gold: Brittney Reese
Darya Klishina Anna Nazarova
Olga Kucherenko Nastassia Mironchyk – Ivanova
Men’s Long Jump
If Dwight Phillips (8.74m PB), the 2004 Athens Olympic Champion and four-time World champion, did not figure in a car accident last May, he’ll be the favorite for the Olympic title. But then again, misfortune had plagued the long jump legend’s 2012 preparations.
Hence, the field is wide open for a flurry of names to rise to the occasion. The farthest jump this season is just a relatively humble 8.35m by the host country’s Greg Rutherford and Russian junior Sergey Morgunov, who rewrote the World junior record. Sebastian Bayer and Marquise Goodwin have respective season’s bests of 8.34m and 8.33m. A mere four centimeters separate the next six athletes in the 2012 rankings: Godfrey Khotso Mokoena (8.29m A), Mitchell Watt (8.28m), Henry Frayne (8.27m), Christian Reif (8.26m), Will Claye (8.25m), Jinzhe Li (8.25m), and Aleksandr Menkov Александр Меньков (8.24m.
The newly-crowned World Indoor champion, Mauro Vinicius da Silva of Brazil, has a season’s best of 8.10m.
Mokoena (L) and Watt (R). (Photos from Petritap and Erik van Leeuwen)
The contenders, save for the 34-year old Phillips, are a young bunch. The oldest is the 27-year old Reif, the 2010 European Champion. Will Claye, attempting the triple/long jump double is the youngest at 21-years old.
If the clock runs out for the recuperating Phillips, the battle for long jump gold will be two-pronged. Mokoena, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, has the most considerable experience and the farthest lifetime best at 8.50m. Reif (8.47m PB) and Watt (8.45m PB) round up the next two.
Claye (L), Rutherford (C), and Reif (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen and Eckhard Pecher/Arcimboldo)
Bayer has an indoor personal best of 8.71m from 2009. Although he had won the 2012 European title with his 8.34m leap, the European indoor record holder has been unable to replicate such high-quality jumping in major championships. Should Bayer get his act together, he could finally live up to his huge potential. Then there’s the young Russian Morgunov, who leaped to new World Junior Record of 8.35m. Should he be able to display the same level of consistency, he could figure in the top three.
Phillips is my sentimental favorite to win the long jump gold. Had he not been injured, he would have been a strong contender for the top spot.
Mokoena is the next best choice for top honors because of his edge in championship experience. The exuberant Claye could figure in a tight battle bronze (or even silver). Rutherford, who has jumped personal bests of 8.35m twice this year, is another contender for a spot on the podium. The in-form Briton might just pull-off a Jai Taurima, albeit with none of the “cigarettes, pizza, and late nights.”
These jumpers certainly are capable of leaping beyond the humble season’s best of 8.35m. The prospects for the Men’s Long Jump competition are indeed exciting due to its unpredictability.
Top Three Predictions
Gold: Mitchell Watt/Godfrey Khotso Mokoena
Silver: Greg Rutherford/Sebastian Bayer
Bronze: Will Claye/Christian Reif
Article by Joboy Quintos
2008 Beijing Olympics Results
2011 World Championships Results
2009 World Championships Results
2007 World Championships Results
2012 World Indoor Championships Results
2010 World Indoor Championships Results
IAAF Top List – 2012 Men’s Long Jump
IAAF Top List – 2012 Women’s Long Jump