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Beijing is a long jump away for Berkeley Springs grad

Belt set to compete at Olympic Trials

Belt set to compete at Olympic Trials

June 27, 2008|By ANDREW MASON

Tone Belt said all work and no play has not made him a dull boy.

The 2005 Berkeley Springs High School graduate, who starred in three sports for the Indians, will get to show just how sharp he is this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore.

Belt is seeded 13th out of 24 competitors in the men's long jump. The top 12 from tonight's preliminary round advance to Sunday's final.

"I've got a lot of energy," said Belt, who redshirted both the indoor and outdoor track seasons this year at the University of Louisville as he recovered from a knee injury.

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"All I've been doing is training and training and training. You work so much, and now is when it's going to pay off. And mentally you're ready because you know how hard you worked."

Belt's personal best in the long jump came during his sophomore year at the 2007 NCAA indoor championships, as he leapt 26 feet, 1 3/4 inches to win the title. A few weeks after finishing second in the NCAA outdoor championships last spring, Belt injured his left knee while jumping at the AT&T USA championships.

"I tore my ACL, LCL, PCL and meniscus," he said. "They had to cart me off the field."

He had surgery a week later and has been on the comeback trail ever since.

"I've got a lot to prove," Belt said. "The injury I had is hard to bounce back from. I've got to reclaim my spot."

Belt will be one of four collegians in the field. He said his No. 1 goal is to beat the other three. He also hopes to record a personal best and advance to the finals.

While he knows he's a long shot to make the Olympic team for Beijing, Belt is ready to give it his best shot. Not only will he have to place in the top three, he'll have to meet the Olympic 'A' qualifying standard of 26-11 -- which has already been met by the top four seeds.

"It's possible," Belt said. "Mentally, I'm there. I'm just going to go as far as my body will take me."

His injury, he said, was "the best thing that could have happened to me."

"When you're successful when you're young, you take some things for granted. But I don't take anything for granted anymore," he said. "When you get hurt and have to just watch, you realize how much you miss something and how much you want something."

Tonight's long jump competition won't begin until 10:30 p.m. EDT.

"I've been practicing late and stuff to get ready," Belt said. "I like jumping at night. It reminds me of playing football in high school on Friday nights.

"I'm anxious. I can't wait."

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