As a high school senior, Janay DeLoach took some people by surprise when she announced she was going to Colorado State on a track and field scholarship. While she was an outstanding track athlete, her primary sport at Eielson High was basketball.
"Her main sport up here was basketball, and she only did track for eight or nine weeks a year," Jim Cavanaugh, DeLoach's track coach at Eielson, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner earlier this month.
But during those eight or nine weeks a year, she was a marvel, and Colorado State took notice. DeLoach fell in love with the long jump while going to school in Fort Collins, where she still lives.
A high-scoring basketball player with speed to burn, DeLoach used that speed to excel in track too. She won three state titles in the 100 meters and four straight in the long jump.
As a freshman at Eielson, DeLoach won her first long jump championship with a jump of 17 feet, 7 inches that left a couple inches shy of the state record. As a sophomore, she became the first girl in Alaska to break the 18-foot barrier with a jump of 18-1/2. As a junior, she soared past the 19-foot mark, soaring 19-2. As a senior, she went 19-5, a record that still stands.
"The thing with Janay was everything was all natural for her," Cavanaugh told the News-Miner. "She probably could have done the high jump too. She was short, but she had a lot of spring in her legs."
DeLoach captured the silver medal at the world indoor championships earlier this year and then recorded a personal-best at the Olympic Trials in June to qualify for the London Games. She leapt 23 feet to place third and win the final berth on the U.S. team.
"I am almost there. I can almost taste it," DeLoach wrote on her blog after marching with Team USA at Friday's Opening Ceremonies. "On August 7th and 8th, I willbe as ready as anyone can be to make the most of my year."
All I can say is, "WOW". From the moment I put on my ceremony outfit (which sort of made me look like I was attending grade school) I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. The Lord has blessed me so much and no other place in this world could have been more humbling than in the Olympic Stadium the moment those 7 athletes lit the Olympic torch. The fireworks, the music, the crowd and the fans ... it was all so surreal. Even as I began to tire from all the walking, and my feet began to hurt from the uncomfortable shoes, it was a moment in my life that I will never forget. I saw what millions of others only watched on T.V. - The Olympic Torch being lit only a few feet away from where I stood. I could feel the heat from the massive torch and I closed my eyes and etched that moment in my memories for life. AMAZING.