Reese to the Olympics!

Brittney Reese did Thursday night what most thought she'd do all along. She advanced to the Olympic Games in Beijing in the long jump. And she left no doubt by winning the event overall at the U.S. team trials.

Reese, who recently signed a professional contract with World Express Athletic Management and now competes for Nike, became the sixth track and field athlete in school history to qualify for the Olympic Games. Reese, a Gulfport native, won the long jump Thursday in Eugene, Ore., with an Ole Miss record jump of 22-09.75 at historic Hayward Field.

Other Ole Miss greats in track and field who have made previous Olympics are Savante' Stringfellow (2000), Tony Dees (1992) and Gary Kinder (1988), who, like Reese will do, competed for the U.S. in the Olympic Games. Former UM greats Alvin Haynes (1992) and Allan Ince (1988) competed in the Olympic Games for Barbados.

The top three finishers in the event will represent the United States in the games next month. Joining Reese in Beijing will be Grace Upshaw (22-07.00) and Jimoh Funmi (22-00.75).

Her Thursday night mark of 22-09.75 stands as the second longest jump in the world this season. Her previous personal best jump of 22-09.00 stood as the world's longest jump for the majority of this year.

"This was the biggest stage Brittney had competed on all season, and she showed exactly what type of competitor she is," Ole Miss head coach Joe Walker said after he watched in person with pride as Reese accomplished one of her goals. "The winds were swirling and the conditions were not ideal, but she just showed how much talent and determination she has. Early in the event she stood in seventh place, later moved into second and topped it off by winning the meet on her final jump. It really just shows how much of a competitor she is and how much character she has."

Reese heads to the games having won the individual title in the long jump in every meet in which she has competed. She was the SEC Champion, the NCAA MidEast Region Champion and the NCAA Champion in the long jump. Individually, she was named the SEC Female Field Athlete of the Year, the South Region Female Field Athlete of the Year and the National Women's Field Athlete of the Year.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are scheduled to take place August 8-24.

*** Jay D'Abramo of UM athletics media relations contributed greatly to this story.

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