Reese is easy to spot on the field. She has more than a dozen tattoos, including a sleeve on her right arm that features a cross, and the Olympic rings on her chest, alongside her nickname, “Beast.” The ink is the loudest thing about her.
“I’ve always liked her demeanor,” Joyner-Kersee said. “I observe a lot of athletes from afar and I see how they are as a person, how they are around friends and family and even strangers. She can seem soft-spoken, but really, she’s just that focused.“
“Very humble on the outside, very competitive inside,” is how Walker describes his star pupil.
Reese tries not to think in terms of specific marks, but she figures she’ll need to jump 23 feet in London to get a sniff of the podium. Her best outdoor mark is 23-7¼, posted at last year’s U.S. championships. Those who have watched Reese grow in the sport say they wouldn’t dare put limits on her. The world record is 24-8¼.
“That’s what makes her a really scary competitor,” Joyner-Kersee said. “What I see in Brittney is something special. She has that ability. Twenty-five feet — anything is possible.”
Said Walker: “She hasn’t come close to her plateau yet. She has a lot more in her.”
Notes: The men’s 200 meter final is scheduled for Sunday, and most of the top American sprinters will be nowhere near the starting blocks. In Friday’s preliminary heats, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, the top finishers in the 100 meters last weekend, scratched, as expected. Walter Dix, who tweaked his hamstring in the 100 semifinal last week, was also a no-show, which means his lone chance of competing at the Olympics would be as a member of the 4x100 relay team, if he’s chosen.
Wallace Spearmon was the top qualifier in the 200, posting a time of 20.17 seconds Friday. Though he finished third in the event at the Beijing Games, Spearmon was disqualified for stepping out of his lane. Shawn Crawford (20.32) had the fourth-best qualifying time. Crawford was the gold medal-winner at the Athens Games and took home silver four years later. . . .
Jillian Camarena-Williams will compete in her second Olympics, winning the shot put Friday with a throw measuring 62 feet, 101
2 inches. She’ll be joined by Michelle Carter (60-111
4) and Tia Brooks (60-2). Camarena-Williams finished 12th at the Beijing Games. . . .
Annapolis’s Matt Centrowitz advanced to the 1,500 meter finals with the top time in Friday’s semifinals, finishing his heat in 3 minutes, 41.9 seconds. Robby Andrews, the former University of Virginia runner, had the third-best time (3:42.14). The finals are set for Sunday afternoon. . . .
Emma Coburn, the defending national champion in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, is headed to her first Olympics. She won Friday’s final with a time of 9 minutes 32.78 seconds. She was followed by Bridget Franek (9:35.62) and Shalaya Kipp (9:35.73).