Pullen makes his­tory in Ra­zor­backs’ shirt

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - NATE ALLEN

FAYET­TEVILLE — For only the sec­ond time since 2014, Clive Pullen triple-jumps while not in an Arkansas Ra­zor­backs shirt.

It marks the first time, Pullen says, he jumps not in awe of wear­ing a shirt dif­fer­ent than Arkansas’.

Even while win­ning Ja­maica’s na­tional triple jump cham­pi­onship in 2016 and again last June 24, grad­u­at­ing se­nior Pullen wore garb rep­re­sent­ing the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville.

Ra­zor­backs ju­nior All-American 400-me­ter hur­dler Ke­mar Mowatt also wore Arkansas’ shirt while qual­i­fy­ing with Pullen to rep­re­sent Ja­maica at next month’s World Out­door Cham­pi­onships in London.

From much of the re­tired Arkansas Coach John McDon­nell era through the en­tire on­go­ing Coach Chris Buck­nam Arkansas era, Ja­maica has pipelined track ath­letes into Arkansas who have blossomed to world class, in­clud­ing for­mer Ra­zor­backs and cur­rent Ja­maican World Cham­pi­onships team hur­dler Omar McLeod.

“I see that con­tin­u­ing,” Pullen said, not­ing Ja­maican high school record-set­ting triple jumper Carey McLeod sign­ing with Arkansas.

Pullen made Ja­maican his­tory in 2016 wear­ing Arkansas’ shirt. He not only won Ja­maica’s Olympic Tri­als but, with a then-per­sonal best 55-5 1-2, met the Olympic stan­dard. At the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Pullen be­came Ja­maica’s first Olympic triple jumper since 1972.

The spot­light proved too bright for the then-Arkansas ju­nior in Ja­maica’s shirt. He fouled try­ing for a huge jump on his first two jumps and failed to ad­vance on his Olympics fi­nal pre­lim jump.

“He was the first Ja­maican Olympic triple jumper in 44 years,” Arkansas field events coach Travis Geopfert said.

“So I think whether we in­tended it to be that way or not, the cel­e­bra­tion hap­pened at the Ja­maican Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. It was such a high and such a big deal. Now for these World Cham­pi­onships it’s ‘I’ve been there be­fore. This year I’m ready to make some noise.’” Pullen con­curs.

“The day I jumped I kind of had a lit­tle bit of stage fright,” Pullen said. “I’ve grown from it. This time around should be dif­fer­ent. I am cer­tainly not car­ry­ing that as bag­gage into Worlds. I’m ab­so­lutely ex­cited and ready to go.”

Pullen is a bet­ter jumper now, Geopfert said. The two-time NCAA In­door triple jump cham­pion leaped a per­sonal best 56-4 in­doors last win­ter.

“When he did his jump, that was No. 4 in the world,” Geopfert said. “So Clive: ‘You’re that good. You don’t have to nail it with a per­sonal best in pre­lims. Just go ex­e­cute and do what you nor­mally do and make the fi­nal and go from there.’”

A ham­string in­jury pre­vented Pullen from hav­ing the 2017 out­door sea­son he wanted. But he’s healed now.

Miss­ing some meets has fresh­ened him for these World Cham­pi­onships, he said.

“A lot of col­le­gians are at the tip­ping off point by now,” Pullen said.

“Last year I was like that. This year I’m not drained. I just had a great triple jump from a short ap­proach. I won’t say the dis­tance, but it gave me great con­fi­dence it’s com­ing to­gether at the right time.”

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