Brittney-Reese-Wins-Gold
Brittney Reese of the United States competes in the Women's Long Jump Final on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated her hometown, Brittney Reese hoped to give Gulfport, Miss., a medal in the Beijing Games.

She came up short, and was crushed.

“When I placed fifth, I was devastated and cried the whole way back to the (athletes) village,” she said. “I had the whole Gulf Coast behind me … I wanted to come out there and do that for them.”

She delivered four years later with a long-awaited gold medal in the long jump. She repeatedly recalled the struggles her family had been through after Katrina, which produced rains that collapsed the roof on her home and displaced the family for several months.

“We had mold and we were living out of mobile homes and trailers,” she said. “It was a tough time and unless you realize how blessed you are to have neccessities — we didn’t have hot water, and it was hot and we didn’t have air conditioning. It was a real true eye-opener and my city is now rebuilt and we have most of the stuff back.

“But we don’t have a lot of the homes back. This was a great way for me to bring something home to them to show that we can all do this together.”

Follow Jenna Fryer on Twitter @JennaFryer