Northern Nevada long jumper has big air, Big Ben on his mind at Olympic Trials
FALLON, Nev. – He’s not even 30 but Aarik Wilson feels like an old-timer.
The 2001 Fallon grad and four-year letterman at the University of Indiana has been jumping professionally since 2005 and his resume doesn’t lie. Wilson’s won numerous events in the triple jump all over the world and has competed twice in the U.S. Olympic Trials, winning his most recent trip four years ago in Eugene, Ore.
“There are so many new faces and names that I feel as if I am the rookie in my first year competing,” said Wilson, 29, who hadn’t jumped since the Olympics until this season after recovering from a leg injury. “This time there is a bit more anxiety. I am excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time.”
Jumping in his third Trials this week at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, Wilson’s pushing for his second ticket to the Olympics after capturing the event in 2008 that earned him his first-ever trip to the Summer Games in Beijing. Wilson first jumped in the Trials in 2004 while with Indiana.
Unlike that jump four summers ago, Wilson’s injuries sidelined him for three years before he started jumping again this year. Wilson ranks third in the country in triple jump and won the Mount Sac Relays two months ago to give him a berth in the Olympic Trials.
The qualifying round is at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday while the finals are Saturday at 4:40 p.m. The top 12 from Thursday’s round advance to the final stage where the top three will move on to London.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast Thursday’s round on a delay schedule from 9-11 p.m. The finals will be broadcast on NBC.
Wilson’s traveled the world this year to get back into the groove of professional jumping. His stops have included China, Puerto Rico, Alberta and Walnut, Calif., one of his favorites. He said that his body is ready to compete at the highest standard but these meets have been more beneficially mentally.
“Being back has been great,” he said. “But really this season for me has really been preparing me for the major international ‘world-class’ competition like I will see this week in Eugene and then hopefully in London. I needed to get into some bigger competitions and get around and rub elbows with the best in the world to really help train the mental side of track and field and competition.”
But even though stress fractures slowed his recovery, Wilson feels more comfortable this year compared to the last time he jumped in the Trials. In 2008, Wilson was nursing his leg before the event, which didn’t affect his results but did prevent him from competing at his best in Beijing. In China, Wilson was able to complete his jumps but they were far off normal.
“The difference this time is that I am actually able to run and sprint and train like normal compared to last time when I was in a boot and on crutches,” Wilson said. “Although, last time I had the Olympic A standard going in and this time I must attain the standard at the competition.”
Just like four years ago, Wilson’s family will make the 10-hour trip to the Oregon campus and rout him on, hoping for another trip to the world’s biggest event.
“I am so bless to have the best family and friends on the planet, but I have more people supporting me than I probably deserve,” Wilson added. “I say thanks everyday for all the amazing people helping get to where my dreams see me going.”
Because of his injury and the weak economy, Nike decided not to continue sponsoring Wilson and the Fallon native has set up a website directed toward those able to help. Fans can visit http://www.3jumpswithaarik.com to help donate and follow the former Nevada state champ as he competes in Oregon.
“I would like to give a huge handshake and hug to those of them who were able to donate to my quest for the London Games this summer,” Wilson said.
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