Gulfport’s biggest community cheerleader, Brittney Reese, was at the height of her career when it happened.
After winning a gold medal in the long jump in the 2012 London Olympics, Reese suffered a leg injury from which she would spend the next couple of years recovering.
Reese’s mother, Carla Young, said she thinks her daughter will be bringing home the gold yet again. The Gulfport High graduate competes in the Rio Olympics beginning Tuesday.
“I think she’s back,” Young said from the Bert Jenkins Gymnasium, the place Reese started her athletic career by playing basketball. “She’s had a rough couple of years. But she’s back on track again.”
Full-time mom and nurse
Young leaves for Rio on Sunday. And though she said she is eager to see her daughter and be there to support her, Reese’s injury is still on her mind.
“It was a rough time, but she had determination to make a full recovery and she did,” Young said. “She went out before she should have, but she was just being Brittney.”
Young joined Reese in Colorado, where the athlete started her rehab process. A week later, they moved the rehab process to Reese’s home in California.
Young said it was hard to watch her daughter struggle through the early days of therapy.
“She thought about retiring and just giving it up, but I told her I didn’t think she should do that,” Young said. “But it’s left up to her because it’s her life. She found her way back. I was just too glad to see her try, because I didn’t want her not to try.”
Going for the gold and more
Reese has not only made a full recovery and resumed her quest for a second gold medal, she’s also only a few inches short of breaking the long jump world record.
Young said her daughter is focused on what needs to be done.
“She’s decided that if she doesn’t break the record this time, that next year she’s going to get it,” Young said. “I am so proud of her because she didn’t quit and she wanted to win again.”
Straight out of Gulfport
Young said she’s seen her daughter grow as an athlete over the years.
“She knows that everyone wants to beat her and she doesn’t like to lose,” Young said. “When you see her off thinking, she’s coming up with a strategy to see what she can do to become No. 1.”
When she’s not training or competing, Reese is no stranger to Gulfport and can be spotted at GHS football games or other places in the community. An avid user of social media, “Da Long Jump Beast” is constantly showing love to her hometown on Twitter.
“She’s still Brittney and she’s still shy, but Brittney loves Gulfport,” the proud mom said. “She always wanting to do things to help people in her hometown.”
And Young said she is still trying to keep up with Reese.
“I used to could count her steps but she’s gotten so fast I can’t keep up with them anymore,” Young said. “You learn all kinds of things as a mom.”
Gulfport viewing party for Brittney Reese
Where: Buffalo Wild Wings at 15530 Daniel Blvd. off U.S. 49 and Landon Road in Gulfport
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday; Reese is scheduled to compete at 7:05 p.m. on NBC