Long jumping family dreams of Olympic glory - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Long jumping family dreams of Olympic glory

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

For Andre Jefferson, it was love at first jump.

"I don't have girlfriend," said Jefferson.  "This (long jump) is my girlfriend."

Jefferson's love for long jump, is in his blood.

His brother Tyris, is 2012 Class 5A state long jump champion.  He now competes at Kansas State University.

His father Tyrus, is the best of the bunch.

"We are always going at it," said Andre.  "My dad says 'You're lucky I'm not younger.'"

In 1986, few were better than Tyrus Jefferson.  He was ranked No. 10 in the world in the long jump. Jefferson was No. 4 in the United States.

Unfortunately for Jefferson, USA track and field was loaded with stars like Carl Lewis and world record holder Mike Powell.  Jefferson fell short of the Olympics in 1988.

Later that year, Jefferson joined a large group of American athletes for a track and field tour in South Africa.  South Africa and its apartheid regime was banned from the Olympics.  The American tour was not approved by USA track and field.  

"We wanted to show them how we got along in the United States," said Tyrus Jefferson.  "We sent 12 people over there of different races and backgrounds and cultures. We were like filibusters. Two years later, (Nelson) Mandela was out of jail."

When he returned to the United States, Jefferson and all the athletes that competed in South Africa were punished.  Jefferson was hit with a four year suspension.  His Olympic dreams were finished.

"We felt like we could make a difference and I believe we did," said Jefferson.  "It cost me, but I'd believe to this day I did the right thing."

About 25 Years later, Jefferson is back in the sport of long jump, coaching his son Andre.

"Andre jumps just like me," said Jefferson.  "He has the explosion off the board and the height."

Andre appreciates all his dad has done.

"He's amazing man," said Andre, "He's hard on me but he knows I can jump far. He sees me in him."

Andre has the second best long jump of 2013.  He will head to New York in March to compete in the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Andre's ultimate goal is the 2016 Olympic games.  His dad can only smile, thinking about his son's bright future.

"I think it would be a dream come true," said Tyrus Jefferson.  "That's all I thought about was holding that flag. If one of my kids would do it, it would be like me holding that flag. I think it would be even better."

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