Mississippi natives ready to compete in Tokyo Olympics

Mississippi natives ready to compete in Tokyo Olympics
Mississippi natives ready to compete in Tokyo Olympics
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 8:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics is set for July 23 and some of Team USA’s members are from right here in the Magnolia State.

While there won’t be any spectators in the stands, that doesn’t change the excitement for Brittney Reese and Shelby McEwen. One’s a veteran Olympian and the other’s a rookie.

Long jumper Brittney Reese is preparing for her fourth and what she says will be her final Olympics, after the unexpected delay of the Tokyo summer games.

“For me, it was a blessing and it was just something we all had to get over,” explained Reese. “It was a blessing because, with my age, to take a step back and work on some of the small things that I think are necessary to win another Olympic medal.”

The Gulfport High and Ole Miss grad brought home gold in women’s long jump back in 2012 and silver in 2016. She says team USA becomes a family. And there’s an aspect she thinks will be missing for her last games.

“Before the COVID situation, we got to go see them... see the other events,” noted Reese. “They would give us tickets to go watch a match or anything like that. I was looking forward to that because I wanted to see Coco Gauff in tennis. But I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that this year.”

There’s no point of reference like for first time Olympian Shelby McEwen.

“It’s most definitely going to be different with no opening ceremonies,” said McEwen. “It’s different. I hate that I have to experience my first Olympics like that. But the best thing is that I’m in the Olympics. So, at least I can say I’m an Olympian. So, I can say that.”

McEwen has something in common with USA teammate Brittney Reese. Both played basketball before switching sports to track and field. The Abbeville native graduated from Oxford High then went onto Alabama. He admits the last year put a wrench in his plans.

“I moved to Louisville, Kentucky where I had gone to train with a coach up there,” explained McEwen. “I had to come home due to COVID because we couldn’t train at the university. So, I had to come home. He’d send my workouts every Sunday and I’d go out Monday through Friday. My mom comes out to the track with me. She keeps me going. Keeps me motivated. We knew it was one goal and one goal only and that was to make the Olympic team.”

“Just want them to keep rooting for me on this last one,” added Reese about her Mississippi support.

To view a list of all the Olympic athletes with Mississippi ties, click HERE.

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