July 16th, 2021
Brittney Reese is a seven-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. She recently earned a spot to her fourth Olympic Games after winning her 13th national title at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month. Her illustrious career extends beyond athletics — in between her competitions and training, she’s a mother, a coach, and holds an MBA from DeVry University.
Methodical, driven, and humble, it’s no surprise that Reese is as accomplished as she is. We talked with Brittney about her story, what she’s most proud of in her life, and how she has continued to reach new heights on and off of the field.
Parity: What are the four areas of your life that you care most about?
Brittney: I will say being a mother. I have a 13 year old. I adopted my godson. Just being able to be a mother to him — that’s a big stage for anybody. And it's even harder being a mom and an athlete. So that's one. Another is being a believer. I grew up in the church, and whatever is written, is written. We just have to be patient and ride the course. Another thing is being an athlete. Being able to travel the world, being able to compete at one of the biggest stages and being able to do that four times. They always say Team USA is one of the hardest teams to make and I 100% agree. Once you make this team, I feel like the hardest part has been done.
Brittney: Number four is being a student. I love to read and learn new things. I think that carries over into being an athlete. When you're a professional, you have to be a student to your sport. You've got to study, see what you can improve on and talk with your coach on how to make those corrections right away.
Parity: Awesome! Obviously these things are interconnected, these four areas of life. We have been aware of your career forever. It seemed that adopting your son happened at a time that was really difficult athletically for you. How did that story weave itself together?
Brittney: I adopted him, but I had my mom take over and take care of him for a while until I had to focus on the Olympics. I had to focus on my career. It was the time that I think I was coming back from an injury and I was almost thinking about quitting. Then I decided to move him out [to California] and he's been thriving. He's one of the top athletes in San Diego for track and field. He plays baseball, he plays basketball, he's doing everything. You're absolutely right. It was the time that I needed him and he needed me. He just gave me a greater purpose. It's a real blessing.
Parity: What would you say you've learned as a mom that has transferred the most to sport?
Brittney: Time management. The first year he got here I homeschooled him, so we were up early in the morning, getting some work done before we went to the track. I learned how to manage my time mainly just by bouncing around with him and being a coach.
Parity: Can you talk about your faith a little bit more?
Brittney: Yeah, I'm a believer in God and what he's done in my life. I put my faith and trust in him. So whatever is written, is written. You just have to go and do what you're supposed to do. I feel like this world would be a better place if all we got to do is just love each other. I think he's put me in this position for a reason.
Parity: Okay, so you’re a seven-time World Champion, two-time Olympic medalist! What was your favorite victory? Was it the first one? Or maybe the Rio medal is more meaningful than we know because of injuries?
Brittney: Obviously my first Olympic gold in Berlin is something I want to cherish. I think that was the year I was constantly doing well, jumping seven meters. That feeling of accomplishment was what I think jump-started my career. I started thinking, "Oh, I like this feeling. I want to keep winning." My Olympic gold was just me coming back from what happened to me in 2008 — I was devastated. That was a tough time because it was my first year turning pro and I had a really good professional career, along with just coming out of college. I had just won nationals, indoor nationals, outdoor. I had high hopes, like, "Oh yeah. I'm ready to get a medal." And I got there and my body said, "No, ma'am. You're done." After that, I promised myself that I wasn't ever going to be left off the podium again, and finally get an Olympic gold medal. Berlin was more emotional to me than making the team.
Parity: What do you like to read?
Brittney: I have a bunch of books that I'm reading. Right now, I’m re-reading “The Power of Subconscious Mind.” I love that book. I just love the power of the mind. It's just crazy how you can just think certain things and keep instilling it. Good things will happen. My niece bought me the Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets book. I haven't gotten to it yet.
Parity: What else are you a student of?
Brittney: Jumping. When working at the training center, I get so much data. I'm gracious to be in that spotlight that can give me my numbers. Right after I jump, I get an email of my jumps, what this meant and what that meant. I'm a nerd for that type of stuff, because I know how fast I'm supposed to be running. I just love jumping, the analytics that go along with it, and everything that's involved with it.
Parity: Did coaching at Mesa feed that fire a little bit?
Brittney: I think it did. That's another reason why I study too, because I wanted to be a coach and got the opportunity at Mesa. I coached the high jump, I coached the long jump, the triple jump, and the sprints. I learned how to train all different athletes, all different kinds of athletes. I learned how to work with everyone’s body and what different people can handle, so they could perform at their best. My kids always made it to nationals and performed well.
Parity: It's such a testament to you as a self-aware athlete, learning throughout the process to be a good coach. That's such a key component, because athletes often think they can be coaches, but if they're not the right kind of self-aware athlete, it's not going to work.
Brittney: Yeah. You have to understand how to grow with the sport. There's so much stuff. The sport has grown a lot. When I look back at the things I did in college to practice versus what I do in practice now is like night and day.
Parity: It’s all about the love of the game. Brittney, it was so great to talk with you!
Brittney: You too!
Reese is heading to Tokyo, eager to end her career on her terms — on top of the podium. The women’s long jump event at the 2020 Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place on August 1 and August 3, 2021.
3x Olympian, Olympic Gold Medalist, 3x FIBT World Cup Gold Medalist