Midwood’s Oliver enjoys state titles, eyes 2012 Olympics

Midwood’s Oliver enjoys state titles, eyes 2012 Olympics
Imani Oliver won the girls idoor track Wingate Award.

Three years ago Imani Oliver was really just learning the triple jump. Now she has aspirations of competing in it on the world’s greatest stage.

“I keep telling my coach, ‘I’m going to the 2012 Olympics,” the Midwood senior said. “Now I can actually see it happening.”

Oliver, who Hornets coach Walter Cohen called an “extremely hard worker who strives to excel,” received the PSAL girls indoor track Wingate Award, given to the league’s most outstanding senior in each sport, at St. Francis College last Monday.

It wasn’t the only hardware she picked up in the last few days. She won her second straight triple jump state title this year when she won the event with a leap of 40 feet 2.25 inches at the state outdoor championships at Vestal HS this weekend. It completes a perfect sweep of championships for the Princeton-bound Oliver. She won the Brooklyn, city and state crowns during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

“I said if I don’t repeat this performance I would be very disappointed,” she said of completing the sweep.

It is her career best jump of 41-09 at the PSAL outdoor city championships that has Oliver believing she can compete for a spot on the United States or Jamaican Olympic team down the road. At the time it was believed she had topped A.P. Randolph’s Michelle Hickman’s 1996 PSAL record of 43-3.75 with that leap, but without proper wind instruments at Icahn Stadium it could not be determined if it was wind aided or not.

“Hopefully if I get the chance to go to nationals on Friday I will just do it again with wind instruments,” a disappointed Oliver said.

Consistency at that length would be a big step forward. The top finisher at this season’s NCAA outdoor championship jumped 45-11.75, so Oliver doesn’t feel she is far behind heading into the collegiate ranks. She credits jump coach Anthony Mucurio for her continued success as her best mark her sophomore year was 36-2.25.

“I think once I have college training it’s just more years and more hard work to get me where I want to be,” Oliver said.

She chose Princeton because it was the best combination of academics and athletics and she wanted to work with Tigers jump coach Ed Roskiewicz. Oliver believes she needs to work on extending more during her final phase, the jump, if her distances are going to improve. So far that process couldn’t have gone any better.

“I have always been wondering and waiting for this to happen,” Oliver said. “Now it’s happening.”

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