AP projects Brittney Reese, Tori Bowie will both capture gold medals at Rio Olympics

Two athletes with South Mississippi ties are considered strong favorites to win gold medals at the Summer Olympics later this month.

The Associated Press projects Gulfport’s Brittney Reese defending her gold medal in the long jump and Southern Miss’ Tori Bowie capturing gold and silver in the 100-meter and 200-meter races.

Long jump qualifying will take place at 6:05 p.m. Aug. 16, with the finals at 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Qualifying for the women’s 100-meter run takes place at 8:55 a.m. on Aug. 12, with the heats at 7:40 p.m. The semifinals are 6 p.m. on Aug. 13, with the finals at 7:35 p.m.

Heats for the 200-meter finals will be held at 6:35 a.m. Aug. 15, with the semifinals later that night at 7 p.m. Aug. 16. The finals will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Another first-place finish will place Reese in the history books. Reese would become the first woman to win consecutive long jump gold medals. Heike Drechsler of Germany is the only woman to capture two gold medals in long jump, winning in 1992 and 2000.

“It would mean a lot to be part of history,” Reese told the Sun Herald on June 28. “Having two gold medals would be a tremendous honor and would mean a lot to me. It’d show how hard I worked for them. I feel that it’s reachable and something I can do.

“I’m where I need to be and I feel if I just maintain everything, I should be good and ready to go. I know what I’m capable of doing. I feel 100 percent. I have to stay focused, mentally and physically prepared because I know it’s not going to be easy.”

Reese, who turns 30 next month, won her first gold medal at the 2012 Games in London.

Bowie, a Sand Hill native, is coming off an impressive performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month.

“It’s been a long journey,” Bowie said at the Olympic Trials. “ I’m really looking forward to Rio.”

Bowie posted the U.S.’ fastest times in the 100-meter and 200-meter runs this year and expects tough competition.

“Right now, I feel like everyone is looking to beat Tori Bowie,” Bowie told the Sun Herald on July 1. “That makes me do everything I can to get better.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones