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Tianna Madison has singular focus: Making the Olympics

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The knee surgery in 2006 is just a blur. So is the disappointing finish at last year’s World Championships.
Tianna Madison’s focus is so sharp, and singular, that she’s dismissed everything else but her goal of reaching the Olympics in Beijing in August.
“Now, everything I’m doing is gearing myself to be 100 percent ready for the (Olympic) Trials,” Madison, an Elyria High grad, said Thursday by phone from California. “Everything is organized and with a purpose. I’m going to be as ready as I possibly can be.”
The trip to the Olympics hinges on the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., from June 27-July 6. If Madison achieves her goal, she’ll be the first Lorain County track athlete to make the Olympics since Elyria High’s George Phineas Guthrie qualified in the 110-meter high hurdles for the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
That Madison speaks with such confidence is remarkable considering her recent trials and tribulations.
She was coming off right knee surgery 10 months earlier to remove some loose cartilage and was unable to train at 100 percent for the World Championships in Osaka, Japan, last August.
She finished 10th in defense of her world long jump title.
But that was last year.
Madison’s knee is back to 100 percent, and so is everything else that needs to go her way.
She took a couple of months rest after Japan, but has been back training at UCLA’s Drake Stadium since Nov. 12.
Madison and her coach, Bob Kersee, are prepping for the Trials. The qualifying round for women’s long jump is June 30. Finals are July 3.
Madison has some other meets before then, but the sole focus is making the U.S. Olympic team.
“It took awhile to get used to the workouts,” said Madison, a three-time Ohio high school state champ and state record-holder. “Under Bob Kersee’s program, you run a lot — a lot more than what I was used to. My body was in total shock for a while. I’m more used to it now. For a time, my body was just screaming.”
Madison jumped a career-best 22 feet, 7¼ inches to win the 2005 Worlds in Helsinki, Finland. She was ranked No. 1 nationally and No. 2 in the world.
She turned professional in February 2006, but hasn’t jumped nearly as well the past two years. She jumped 22-3¾ to finish second at the 2006 World Indoor Championships, but that was before her knee became a serious issue.
She reached only 21-2¾ at Osaka, and her best jump for 2007 was 21-8¼ at Madrid.
The 22-year-old knows that she’s still going through a transition from turning pro, and remains undaunted.
“Practices are much more intense, but it’s a lot easier now to jump farther,” Madison said.
She trains from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. five days a week. Sundays and Wednesdays are her days off. She owns a house in Westwood, which is within walking distance of Drake Stadium.
“It’s me and Bobby,” Madison said of Kersee. “We pull long hours.”
Kersee is the husband and coach of three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the U.S. record-holder in the long jump. Kersee and Madison’s agent, John Nubani, are in the process of arranging Madison’s outdoor schedule leading up to the Trials.
“I don’t know my schedule, but at this point I don’t care,” said Madison. “I’m just focused on the Olympic Trials.
“My mentality has totally changed towards track season. It’s unlike college where you compete weekly. I’m going to be ready for the Trials — even if it’s four meets or only one meet.”
Even if it’s only one?
“It really doesn’t matter to me. On the other hand, my agent is trying to put together a schedule for me,” said Madison. “I don’t need a big schedule to get ready.”
That wasn’t her mind-set when she first moved to California in the summer of 2006.
“Now, because of the way I train, every practice feels like a track meet,” said Madison. “It’s not as important to compete often because of the intensity level of training. We can do a lot of what we need to cover in practice.
“I’m even lifting four days a week, which is something I wasn’t even doing last year. Bobby and I communicate all the time. There’s not a day that I come to the track that Bobby doesn’t know how I’m feeling before I get there.”
Madison isn’t dwelling on what didn’t happen in Osaka. It’s only galvanized her resolve to reach Beijing.
“Osaka was a lot more devastating for those who supported me,” said Madison. “I knew that I wasn’t 100 percent. So much of my training leading up to Japan we had to err on the side of caution.”
But now she’s full steam ahead. With one goal in sight.

Madison’s professional/college highlights
2007: 5th at USA Outdoors (6.57m/21-6.75)...10th at World Outdoors (6.47m/21-2.75)...1st at Modesto Relays (6.60m/21-8)…7th at Madrid (6.61m/21-8.25w)…ranked #5 in the U.S. by T&FN…best of 6.60m/21-8.
2006: USA Outdoor runner-up (6.77m/22-2.5)...World Indoor silver medalist (6.80m/22-3.75)...USA Indoor runner-up (6.59m/21-7.5)...3rd at Nike Prefontaine Classic (6.46m/21-2.5w)...10th at DN Galan (6.21m/20-4.5)…1st at DecaNation (6.60m/21-8)…ranked #2 in the U.S. by T&FN…best of 6.80m/22-3.75.
2005: World Outdoor champion (6.89m/22-7.25)...USA Outdoor Champs runner-up (6.70m/22-.5)...NCAA Outdoor champion (6.66m/21-10.25)...1st at NCAA Mideast Regional (6.52m/21-4.75)...NCAA indoor champion (6.78m/22-3PR)...SEC Outdoor champion (6.92m/22-8.5w)...SEC Indoor champion (6.71/22-0.75i)...1st at Tyson (6.69m/21-11.5i)...1st at Knoxville (6.59m/21-7.5)...2nd at Stock (6.58m/21-7.25)...ranked #2 in the world (#1 U.S.) by T&FN...best of 6.89m/22-7.25.
2004: 8th at Olympic Trials (6.42m/21-0.75)...USA Junior champion (6.60m/21-8)...2nd at NCAA Mideast Regional (6.26m/20-6.5)...2nd at SEC Champs (6.34m/20-9.75).
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com. 



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