Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Jumping Jeff after his third U.S. title

Leader sports editor

Olympic gold medalist Jeff Henderson will defend his 2016 long jump national championship this weekend at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento. Before taking Gold with his final jump at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last September, Henderson won his second USA title with his personal best jump of 8.58 meters at the 2016 Olympic Trials, which doubles every Olympic year as the USA Championships.

Henderson, a native of McAlmont and 2007 graduate of Sylvan Hills High School, also won the 2014 USA Outdoor championship. He finished second to Marquis Dendy in 2015, though Dendy’s winning jump was with a +3.7 wind aid while Henderson’s best jump was against a -0.3 wind factor.

Henderson followed the loss in the 2014 national meet by beating Dendy and winning Gold in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Two competitors in this weekend’s championships have jumped farther than Henderson this year. One is Dendy. The other is the University of Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson, who caused an unnecessary controversy with his last jump at the Olympics, complaining that his final jump was measured short, though replays clearly showed his right hand dig into the sand several feet behind where his feet landed.

Henderson’s friend, Adidas teammate and fellow Olympian Michael Hartfield will also be competing.

He also has multiple wins on the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) Diamond League circuit, which is the premier international track and field circuit for professionals.

In two international meets this season, Henderson has had varying results. He fell well short, almost three feet, of his personal best and finished fourth in the Mülluer Grand Prix Indoor Meet in Birmingham, England on Feb. 22.

He got back to form on April 30, winning the Asian Grand Prix Outdoor Championship in Taipei City with a leap of 8.15 meters. It was his fourth victory on the IAAF circuit.

Henderson also has IAAF wins in Glasgow, Scotland, Portland, Ore. and Sacramento.

The USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin on Thursday, but the men’s’ long jump will not begin until 10 a.m. on Sunday, the final day of the event.

NBC will televise the meet, splitting coverage between NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Gold, an internet live streaming app.