Friday, June 05, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Ex-Bear among the elite leapers

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills graduate Jeff Henderson has become a star on the international track and field circuit. He recorded the longest jump in the world last year at the USA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., and ended the year the No. 1 ranked long jumper in the world by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

After winning the USA Championships, he suffered a heel injury in Glasgow, Ireland last July that thwarted his mobility and improvement. After finishing second in the world championships in 2013, Henderson finished 15th in 2014 with a jump far from his best. He managed a fifth-place finish in Birmingham, England before calling it quits for the year.

Since his return, with the strict coaching of 1986 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner, Henderson has only gotten better since.

In April, Henderson jumped a personal best 8.5 meters (27-feet, 10-inches) at an elite meet at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. That jump was a foot longer than second place.

Two weekends ago, Henderson finished second in the Shanghai-Diamond League competition in China.

His jump of 8.26 meters was just one-tenth of a meter short of Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov, who won the event with the longest jump of the year so far. In finishing second, Henderson beat world class jumpers from China, Great Britain, Jamaica, Russia, the Netherlands and Mexico.

The next IAAF event is the World Championships in Beijing, China scheduled for Aug. 22-30, where Henderson will be one of the favorites to win Gold. After that, his sights will be set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 5-21.