By THOMAS RANSON
Appeal News Service
Almost four weeks since winning the triple-jump event in the United States Olympic Trials, Fallon's Aarik Wilson is on his way to Beijing to compete for the gold in the Summer Olympics.
"After I first got back, I was pretty high," Wilson said about winning the event. "It's been back to working hard and focusing on being and performing at the highest level I can. There have been a couple people hitting their jumps, so I'm probably around the top six or seven right now."
Wilson, a 2001 Fallon High School and 2005 Indiana graduate who broke the triple jump record (57 feet, 2 1⁄4 inches) at Hayward Field earlier this month in Oregon, left Kansas on Thursday night and will arrive in China on Sunday. Wilson, though, doesn't compete until Aug. 18. This will be his third trip to China and his first to Beijing.
"I've been lucky enough to compete against best jumpers in the world," Wilson said. "Eighty, 90 percent of the guys that I've faced, I've been seeing the past two, three years (on the professional circuit). There's always somebody who pops up because it's an Olympic year. I see myself as one of those guys."
Since his trial event, Wilson has spent his time nursing a stress fracture in his left tibia, which was diagnosed on May 28. He said that he has been doing foot workouts, sprinting and water exercises.
"I've been just trying to make sure not to get it too sore and hurt myself any more," Wilson said. "I'm just trying to heal as soon as possible. It's still sore and gives me problems when I run. I've done some technique work in the pool but no jumping outside because I'm giving it as much time as I can for it to heal before China."
Now that the pressure of qualifying for the Summer Games has passed, Wilson said the routine for preparation will not change and that he will focus more on advancing past the first stage.
"That was one of the things I said (in June, that he didn't plan on going to China as a spectator) and then I thought about competing for the U.S. in the triple jump," Wilson said. "I didn't realize I didn't let myself get caught up in the Olympics. I was just focusing on being the best."
Wilson will get three jumps and must place in the top 12 to qualify for the events on Aug. 21. The field will narrow to the top eight before medals are awarded.
"It's going to be the same routine. I've had some success with my preparations," Wilson said. "The focus is making sure I make it to the qualifying round on the eighteenth. Right now, I'm just trying to take it as another track meet, another pit. I'm trying to represent the earth as best as I could. I've stressed myself as much as I could over injuries and I've done the best job I could taking care of it."
After winning in Oregon, though, Wilson wasn't sure if his coach, Wayne Pate, would be able to travel because he is not an official Olympic coach. Through fundraising ("Go For Gold Aarik Wilson" T-shirts) and generous donations, supporters have raised enough to buy Pate's plane ticket. He plans on leaving with Wilson's family on Aug. 15.
"He will keep giving me all the workouts to do there," Wilson said. "He has some other stuff to do and take care of. I've appreciated all the help and any more I can get."
Wilson's family, who was also in Oregon during the trials, has been the backbone to the Fallon grad's success.
"That's going to be great," Wilson said. "Mom, grandma and my sister have been able to bring me so much luck over the years that I can't imagine doing it without them."
Visit www.nevadaappeal.com and the Lahontan Valley News Web sites starting next week as Wilson will keep the area updated on his experience in China.