By Neil Maidment
LONDON (Reuters) - America's Brittney Reese could have been shooting hoops instead of picking up an Olympic long jump gold medal on Wednesday but for what has turned out to be a wise choice by her mother.
"She sat me down and told me track was what I needed to do, and momma knows best so that's what I did," recalled Reese, who was a promising basketball player in her youth.
Now 25, Reese made the second biggest jump in the world this year inside London's Olympic stadium to add gold to her world indoor and outdoor titles and achieve her ultimate goal.
She had only managed to register two of six attempts all night but her second jump of 7.12 meters was good enough to win.
"Today my whole approach was to come out and run full speed and jump, that was probably why I fouled so much today. But my approach was to gun it and get a good one," Reese told reporters.
Russia's Elena Sokolova produced a personal best of 7.07 - the seventh best jump in the world this year - to claim silver with Reese's American compatriot Janay DeLoach taking bronze on 6.89.
Reese, who has this year's biggest leap of 7.15 meters, has back-to-back indoor and outdoor world championships in what has been a rich vein of form since finishing fifth in the 2008 Olympic final in Beijing.
On a night when her country won seven out of the 12 track and field medals at the Games, Reese also became the first American Olympic women's long jump champion since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.
Reese, whose home was hit badly by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said she had been cheering on compatriot Allyson Felix as she ran to win Olympic gold in the women's 200 meters before realizing she was running out of time to make her jump.
"I think the US are showing that we need some attention also, Reese said. "It's a great thing for team USA to come out here and get seven medals in one night. We are capable of getting 30 (track and field) medals."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)