London Olympics: Track & field: Finding the needed lift

Inspired by mother, UA's Barrett claims silver in high jump
2012-08-12T00:00:00Z London Olympics: Track & field: Finding the needed liftJeff Metcalfe The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Star
August 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

LONDON - Brigetta Barrett worried that if a moment came like Saturday, when she medaled in high jump at the Olympics, her mother might not be there to share it with her.

That's why immediately after earning a silver medal with a personal-best leap of 6 feet 8 inches, the Arizona Wildcats senior was so insistent about locating Lottie Barrett among the 80,000 on the final night of track and field at Olympic Stadium.

"She's been through so much, treatment after treatment battling breast cancer," an emotional Barrett said. "My mom kept telling me don't worry, I'm not claiming this disease. I was scared for a while that she wouldn't be here to share this moment with me. But my mom is such an amazing woman. She's a fighter, and she was telling me how to fight. That's why I needed to see her."

Lottie Barrett completed chemotherapy treatments in July, just after the Olympic trials.

"I consider my mom a survivor," said Brigetta, who has a twin sister and older sister.

The Wildcat overcame first-attempt misses at 6-5 1/2, then 6-6 3/4 and 6-8 to clear each of those heights, taking second between Russians Anna Chicherova at 6-8 3/4 and Svetlana Shkolina, who had one more miss than Barrett at 6-8.

Barrett jumped higher than any U.S. collegian in history even though the mark doesn't formally count as an NCAA record.

The medal is the first for a UA track and field athlete since Sandra Farmer-Patrick (silver, 400 hurdles) and Michael Bates (bronze, 200) in 1992. Tanya Hughes was 11th in high jump for the Wildcats in 1992 in Barcelona.

"I'm not going to lie - I kind of blacked out," attempting 6-8, Barrett said. "I was very scared. I know this is what we do, and people don't really expect us to be afraid of a bar. There's a moment between Step 7 and 8 where I have to decide if I'm really going to go for this jump or not. I was just like go for it and trust yourself and trust God.

"I put my foot down and closed my eyes and when I hit that mat without hitting the bar, I was like thank you Jesus."

Barrett grew up in New York then moved to Duncanville, Texas, for her final two years of high school.

She is coached by UA assistant Sheldon Blockburger, and she twice has swept NCAA indoor and outdoor titles and is a finalist for the Bowerman award, which is given to the best college track and field athlete each year.

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