LONDON (AFNS) —
Air Force family member Janay DeLoach leaped 6.89 meters Aug. 8 at Olympic Stadium in London to take the bronze medal in women's long jump.
USA teammate Brittney Reese won the gold with a jump of 7.12 meters and Russia's Elena Sokolova earned the silver with a jump of 7.07.
DeLoach said Reese motivates her to improve and provides advice. "She helps me get on the board," DeLoach said of her first-place teammate.
Reese isn't her only supporter, though.
"My dad's here with me, cheering me on," DeLoach said. "He's been there the whole way through. He's always supported me in all my endeavors."
Her father is retired Chief Master Sgt. William DeLoach, whose last assignment was at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and he now works as a contractor with the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards.
His daughter began competing in long jump at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, at age 13.
"I didn't get too many meets in, but you know, it set the stage for where I am now," DeLoach said of competing in track and field at Ben Eielson High School.
She went on to compete in track and field at Colorado State University, but said she didn't really get serious about long jumping until last year.
"That was the year that I won indoors," the 26-year-old 5-foot-5-inch athlete, said. DeLoach won the World Indoor Championship last year with a jump of 6.99.
Then five weeks ago, at the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., DeLoach earned the number-three spot on the USA team with a jump of 7.03 meters.
At the long-jump finals in London, DeLoach was in third place early with her first attempt of 6.77 meters.
Then the second jump for Brittney Reese of the United States put her in first place with a 7.12-meter leap. This dropped DeLoach to fourth place.
After three jumps, DeLoach remained in fourth place with her longest jump still the initial 6.77 meters. But it was enough to put her in the top eight and give her an opportunity for three more attempts.
On her fourth jump, DeLoach leaped 6.74 meters, still just short of her first attempt and still in fourth place.
On her fifth attempt, however, DeLoach soared through the air for a jump of 6.89 meters. She got up out of the sand pit with a smile.
After judges registered the distance, DeLoach realized she was one centimeter in front of Latvia's Ineta Radevica for the bronze. The Latvian had jumped 6.88 meters on her first try in the finals.
On her final attempt, Redevica flew across the sand and planted her feet close to DeLoach's best of the day. But judges measured it at 6.79 meters, 10 centimeters short of the bronze.
"Oh, I was crumbling," DeLoach said. "I was like, 'please God, let me have this bronze medal.' I knew she could do it, but it just didn't happen at this point. I inched her out by just a centimeter."
Then Russia's Anna Nazorova made her last attempt, again looking close to the mark DeLoach set. But the jump was measured at 6.62 and DeLoach threw her hands up in joy, realizing she had the bronze medal.