COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michael Hartfield did not grow up wanting to be a long jumper. But he sure is glad he is one now.
“When I hit that board, it’s like the lights go out,” said Hartfield, “And then I kind of feel myself through the air and then when I hit the sand, it’s like, bang, back on.”
The names and faces of all the Ohio State Olympians hang in the French Field House. Soon, there could be one more, Michael Hartfield. The long jumper on a short list to say he broke a record set by the great Jesse Owens.
“I end up breaking Jesse Owens’ record on my birthday my senior year and that’s when it really became real,” said Hartfield. “That’s Jesse Owens. That’s an Olympian. That’s a great. You can do this.”
Since graduating in 2013, Hartfield has jumped across the world, competing against the best in the sport. He’s ranked second in the world right now but that world ranking means nothing.
“The saying is the U.S. Track and Field team is the hardest team there is to make,” said Hartfield. “It’s very true. Because you could be ranked number one in the world and then have a bad meet and you don’t go.”
But that was not the case last month when Hartfield jumped a personal best 8.42 meters at the U.S. Championships to finish third and qualify for the World Championships next month. One goal down, one big Olympic one to come.
“I try to take the pressure off of myself because I’ve made the team,” said Hartfield.” I’ve made the World team by jumping such a far mark. I now know that I’m capable. So I’m just going out there, staying healthy, doing the things that I’ve been doing to keep my body up and go out there and execute and I’ll make the team.”