Track & Field: Olympic high jumper Dusty Jonas said it will be tough to miss out on the London games after suffer Achilles injury
High jumper Dusty Jonas admits it is frustrating to be injured and not able to compete in the Olympics as he did in 2008. (Clay Jackson / June 15, 2012)
Four years ago, Jonas earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and participated in the Beijing games in the high jump. He had aspirations for another Olympic run for London, and possibly a medal, this year as well, but he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his right foot in a meet in¿February ending his season.
“It’s been really tough. I’m still young enough that I can make a run at Rio (in 2016), but it’s really tough. If anything has been a battle, it’s been a mental battle with that,”¿Jonas said Thursday during the Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy at Centre College.
Since Jonas has been rehabbing his injury, he was able to come to Centre and serve as an instructor at the camp, which ends Sunday.
Of course, he would rather be getting ready for the Olympic Trials beginning June 21 in Eugene, Ore. He started off the year by taking second at the U.S. Open Indoor Chapmanships at 7 feet, 4 inches, then suffered his injury in his second meet of the season in Lincoln, Neb.
“Training had been going better than it had ever gone, by leaps and bounds,” said Jonas, who said his Achilles has been bothering him but that just come with athletics. “If you’re in track and field or in any sport, and you’re competing at a high level and something doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing something right.”
Jonas, 26, said he is just now getting to where he can jog “pretty well” and can work on getting his Achilles stronger.
“It’s not something you want to rush because you want the tendon to heal before the muscles get too strong and start pulling,” he said. “It’s doing well. I should be able to be back by next year and do well. Achilles is a slow recovery.”
Since he has been off, Jonas has turned his attention to coaching. He just finished this third season as a volunteer assistant at Nebraska, where he was a seven-time All-American and set a Big 12 conference record with his high jump of 7-8 3/4 in 2008.
“I saw kids I was coaching have some success, so it makes you feel really good when you’re having an affect on people and you’re doing well,” he said. “I think that kind of kept my mind off everything.”
Once his days of competing are over, Jonas said he wants to get into coaching.
“I’ve really started enjoying it. It’s, to me, been something that is really rewarding. I love the sport so much, I don’t know if I could leave it,” he said. “I feel if I could help a few kids out, help them grow as athletes and people, I think that’s something that will really be worth it in the long run.
“If the kids that are really into it, if two or three take away something that will stick in their minds, I’ll feel I’ve done a pretty good job.”
But Jonas, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, is far from finished and expects to be back next season as strong as ever. He said he can start jumping in October or November and he wants to be ready for the 2013 indoor season.
“I’ve got a few good years left,” he said. “I’ve heard horror stories and I’ve heard really awesome success stories (about recovery). The way everything is recovering right now, I think everything’s going to be fine, especially since it’s not on my jump foot.”
One of most asked questions Jonas gets when he works camps like the Maximum Velocity camp is about his experience in Beijing in the 2008 Olympics where finished 16th in the qualifying rounds at 7-2 1/2.
“As young as I was, I had just turned 22 when I made that team, and it was an experience that I’ll never forget. Three weeks in China, and I travelled a little bit before that to do some meets in Europe. It was a growing experience for sure, especially when it was one of my first international trips to a far away country.
“It was different. It was real special. I wish I could have done better, but that’s when this Achilles actually started bothering me.”