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Athletics

Brittney Reese dedicates long jump gold to inspirational grandfather

Brittney Reese paid tribute to her grandfather who died just before the world championships in London.
Brittney Reese paid tribute to her grandfather who died just before the world championships in London. Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Brittney Reese won her first world championship title in the long jump in Berlin in 2009. Two years after that success in the German capital, she defended her crown in Daegu in South Korea. A gold at the London Olympics in 2012 was followed by another gold at the Moscow world championships in 2013.

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After all those triumphs she was able to celebrate with her grandfather King Dunomes who had ushered her into track and field.

This time in London there won’t be the phone call back home to ‘Paw Paw’. Dunomes died just before the world championships at the age of 86.

“Mentally, I’ve been out of it,” Reese admitted after her success at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Friday night. “I still haven’t accepted that he has gone. He is the reason I am in track and field. He is the reason why I am in sports. Period. He was my number one fan. I miss him.”

Reese, who won silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, claimed her fourth world outdoors title with a jump of 7.02m. Darya Klishina, who is competing as a neutral, was second and the Olympic champion, Tianna Bartoletta, took the bronze.

After her victory was confirmed on Friday night, Reese revealed a handwritten message on the inside of her vest number: “Paw Paw. RIIP.”

“I knew I had to go out there and bring something home for him,” she said as she dedicated her gold to Dunomes.

Trying to keep her emotions in check, Reese 30, recounted how Dunomes had convinced her that track and field would help her with her basketball. “I went to the track for practice and after one day I quit,” she recalled. “My grandfather took me back the next day. He told me I needed to do it. I thank him for putting me in that position and never letting me give up.”

A decade or so after such a railroading, Reese is the dominant long jumper of her generation with nine gold medals harvested from the Olympics as well as world indoor and outdoor competitions.

“My grandpa always used to tell me to give them hell. That was the advice he gave me and that was something he always said. He’s in my heart and I’m really grateful for him.”

 

 

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