She was known as Tianna Madison and still a teenager at the University of Tennessee when she won the gold medal in the long jump at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships. Tianna Bartoletta, a married woman who turns 30 Sunday, advanced to her first final since, when she leaped 6.71 meters on her first and third attempts in Thursday’s qualifying at the Beijing World Championships. She will compete in Friday’s final, along with teammate and Olympic bronze medalist Janay DeLoach Soukup.
“The last thing I wanted to do is foul the first jump because you only get three,” said Bartoletta, who jumped a world-leading 7.12 meters in winning the U.S. title in June. “Tomorrow I will have a lot more confidence. After 10 years, on the one hand, it’s like riding a bike, the fire’s still there. It’s the Bird’s Nest, and I didn’t make the Olympic team in 2008.”
Brittney Reese came into the event as the three-time defending champion and London Olympic gold medalist, but she had been plagued with injuries after having surgery in her right (jumping) ankle in 2013. Owning a personal best of 7.25, she jumped 6.39, 6.23 and 6.17 Thursday.
“It’s a little rough,” said Reese, who is a six-time U.S. champion. “By the time I got out there and did a warmup, my first pop-up jump, my back gave out. I’ve had complications all season long in my hip from having surgery, so I never got back to where I was. It hindered me from sprinting and chasing the board. Overall, I’m not that upset, my goal isn’t chasing medals anymore, I have six of them, it’s breaking records (world record is 7.52). In order to do that, I need to be healthy, and today I was about 50 percent.”
Jasmine Todd, of Chandler, Ariz., placed 19th in qualifying at 6.52 meters. After advancing to the semifinals of the 100 meters earlier in the week, the 21-year-old University of Oregon student scratched her first jump, then recorded 6.26 on her second, before her high on the third. We might see her again once the relays begin.
“The first one I felt was the best of them, not a big scratch,” Todd said. “It’s a work in progress. It wasn’t a main focus coming out here, we were really focused on the 100, so for me to even place here is amazing. I didn’t practice long as much as I would have liked, so I know I can potentially make the final with some practice. It’s not going anywhere, it’s my love.”
The leading qualifier was Ivana Spanovic, the defending bronze medalist from Serbia, who recorded a national record 6.91 meters on her initial attempt. Lorraine Ugen of Great Britain was second (6.87), Germany’s Malaika Mihambo third (6.84), Canada’s Christabel Nettey fourth, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain fifth, after she had faulted her signature long jump attempts in the heptathlon. Also to reach the final are: Natassia Mironchyk-Ivanova of Belarus, Khaddi Sagnia and Erica Jarder of Sweden, Darya Klishina of Russia, and Shara Proctor of Great Britain, who was sixth in 2013. The second American to advance, DeLoach Soukup, sneaked in at 12th place with 6.68 on her final jump.
“I feel rusty,” DeLoach Soukup said. “It’s been a month since I last competed, usually it’s every two weeks. This year has been such a rough year with injuries, I’m just happy to be here on this stage representing Team USA.”