June 13, 2012
By Tony Phifer
Janay DeLoach is one of five former CSU track and field standouts trying to qualify for the London Olympics at the U.S. Trials.
Janay DeLoach had an Olympic dream as a young athlete. It involved jumping and displays of extreme athleticism.
“I wanted to be the next Dominique Dawes,” DeLoach said for the former three-time U.S. Olympic gymnast and the first black athlete of any nationality to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. “I didn’t know anything about track and field. Gymnastics was my sport.”
DeLoach eventually found her way to the track and, more importantly, the long jump. As a result, the former CSU All-American will be in the spotlight at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which begin Thursday in Eugene, Ore., and run through July 1.
DeLoach, 26, is one of five former CSU athletes with realistic chances of making the team that will represent the United States later this summer at the London Games. Two-time Olympian Casey Malone (discus), 2008 Olympian Loree Smith (hammer), Drew Loftin (hammer) and Brian Trainor (discus) will also compete at the Trials in the hope of landing a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
This will be DeLoach’s second attempt at the Olympics. After finishing fifth at the 2008 NCAA Championships, earning All-America honors for the third time, the former Alaska high school standout was invited to the 2008 U.S. Trials. She finished a disappointing 21st.
“I was horrible – I didn’t even make it to the second round,” she said. “It was an embarrassment. I knew I didn’t want my career to end that way.”
Working with CSU assistant track and field coach Tim Cawley, DeLoach rededicated herself to her sport. She shed a few pounds, increased her strength and improved her speed.
The results have been, to say the least, dramatic. She has added an astounding 2 feet to her college best in the long jump and currently ranks second in the world to fellow American Brittney Reese.
During her rise to prominence, DeLoach has gone from being a complete unknown to a household name in international track and field. She has won titles at the past two U.S. Indoor Championships, and this spring won a silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It was the best feeling in the world to think I had just won a silver medal,” she said. “I just started crying because it meant so much to me.”
The ultimate goal, however, is the Olympics. To get there, she will have to finish no worse than third at the Trials. If she comes up short, she’ll have to wait another four years to pursue her Olympic dreams. She won’t, however, be deterred.
“Don’t get me wrong – I will be crushed if I don’t make it,” said DeLoach, who has a master’s in occupational therapy from CSU to go with an undergraduate degree in psychology and human development and family studies. “But it will be motivation … motivation. This year is my beginning. I’m just getting started.”