Brigetta Barrett has been known to sing during her high-jumping workouts. It’s not that she isn’t focused on her training. She simply believes that “to do what you love you have to love doing it.” And why shouldn’t she love to jump? By age 22 she was already an Olympic and World Championship medalist and one of the premier jumpers in United States history.
From New York to Texas
Barrett grew up in Wappinger’s Falls, N.Y, about 75 miles from New York City, and attended Ketcham High School. She joined Ketcham’s track team as a runner but, according to SportsDay DFW, decided to try high jumping when she saw the team’s jumpers taking a break in the shade while she was running in the sun. The switch helped her move into the spotlight when she earned a state indoor high jump title in her sophomore year.
Citing a negative atmosphere in her neighborhood, Barrett was permitted to move in with cousins in Texas before her junior year of high school. She attended Duncanville High, was coached by Beale Tolbert, and continued her success by winning two state championships.
Barrett accepted an athletic scholarship offer to the University of Arizona, but chose the school as much for its performing arts program as for its track team. After a good freshman year she dominated collegiate high jumping for the remainder of her time at Arizona, winning NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in three consecutive years, from 2011-13. She set an NCAA record by jumping 1.99 meters (6 feet, 6¼ inches) at the 2013 Pac-12 championships. She also ran a few 400-meter events – posting a personal best of 55.04 seconds – and won the 2011 World University Games title in a then-personal best 1.96/6-5. She was voted the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year in 2013.
Representing the USA
Barrett was the surprise U.S. high jump champion at age 20 in 2011, leaping 1.95/6-4¾, to earn a spot on the World Championship team. She cleared 1.95 in Daegu to qualify for the Championship final, where she topped 1.93/6-4 to finish 10th.
In 2012 Barrett broke the 2-meter mark and finished second at the Olympic Trials after leaping 2.01/6-7. She qualified for the Olympic final, where she cleared the opening two heights without a miss, then topped each of the next three heights on her second attempts, peaking at a personal best 2.03/6-7¾. Sitting in second place behind eventual champion Anna Chicherova, Barrett missed three times at 2.05/6-8¾ to take the silver medal.
Barrett won the 2013 U.S. Championships with a personal best and world-leading jump of 2.04/6-8¼. She had a scare at the Moscow World Championships, missing her first two qualifying jumps at just 1.83/6-0. She then cleared safely and qualified for the final, where her scorecard was clean through 2.00/6-6¾, leaving her alone in first place. Svetlana Shkolina then cleared 2.03 on her first try while Barrett missed three times, leaving her with another silver medal.
Artistry Off the Track
Barrett graduated cum laude from Arizona in 2013 with a degree in performing arts – she remained an amateur jumper until the 2013 U.S. Championships. In addition to being a track team captain, Barrett kept busy off the track as well. She was co-president of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was Arizona’s homecoming queen. Barrett also performed on stage, wrote a play and sung the national anthem at numerous events, including the 2013 Fiesta Bowl game, the 2012 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships and the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
- Height: 6 feet
- Weight: 140 pounds
- Birth date: December 24, 1990
- Hometown: Duncanville, Texas
- Personal best: 2.04 meters (6 feet, 8¼ inches)