Former Rebels’ Olympic dreams on hold

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) – Gulfport native Brittney Reese is one of the most decorated long jumpers in U.S. Track and Field history: seven world championships, gold medal in the London games of 2012 and a silver in Rio in 2016.

2020 in Tokyo was supposed to be her swan song.

“I was training to be in the Olympics this year, which would ultimately be my last one before I retire,” Reese said. “It was a lot of mixed emotions going around when I heard the news.”

Reese still has work to do to make the team. The Olympic trials were supposed to be in June. Now another year will tick by. The average age of an Olympic athlete is 27. Reese will be 34.

“Obviously, I’m older so I need to be training smarter,” she said. “This is going to be the last one for me, so I want to make sure it’s one of the best, so overtraining would not be smart.”

Reese is going for her last. Former Ole Miss rifle All-American Ali Weisz is going to her first. Weisz graduated in 2017 and has spent the last few years competing for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.

“Pretty much the last two years we’ve been trying to send multiple people to the games,” Weisz said.

Through their hard work, Weisz and her teammates earned two spots or quotas for U.S. rifle in the 2020 games. At the trials, Weisz said the competition came down to less than a tenth of a point.

“I got eliminated. Kinda just sat in the chair and at that point, all you can really do is just pray and hope for the best,” Weisz said. “Then my nationals coach came up to me immediately and told me that I made the team and that’s when all of the emotions really hit.”

On the team, getting ready for Tokyo. Then the games got postponed. Practice ranges shut down. The dream that she’s had since she picked up a BB gun in rural Montana put on hold.

Neither Weisz nor Reese will know what’s next until the IOC announces the new date in mid-April. Regardless of their decision, the drive for that gold medal, Reese’s second, Weisz’s first, remains.