Literally billions of videos have been uploaded to YouTube through the years, but Justin Darlington may be the only uploader whose video gets him to the Olympics.
The Ajax, Ont., native made a name for himself on the Internet when he posted videos of his basketball slam-dunking artistry.
Blessed with an unheard of 50-inch vertical leap, the six-foot-four street-baller can put his head over the rim and pull off moves that make NBA stars look like amateurs.
High-jump coach Daniel St-Hilaire, based in Montreal, stumbled upon those same videos by fluke earlier this year when he typed in “slam dunk basketball” on YouTube.
“For five minutes, I was hypnotized,” St-Hilaire said. “I froze in front of the video. I said, ‘I need to talk to this guy.’”
The 21-year-old Darlington had spent two years travelling the world under the nickname “Jus Fly,” putting on shows and entering dunk contests to earn a living. But when St-Hilaire asked via Facebook to meet him, things changed.
“I said, ‘Why not? I’ll hear what he has to say,’” recalled Darlington.
“First, he showed me how high I would have to jump to get into the Olympics. I laughed at him.”
But Darlington went along with St-Hilaire. After a couple of training sessions, he jumped 1.95 metres. After a couple more, he jumped 2.10 and placed fifth at nationals.
To put it in perspective, Canada’s best high-jumper this year clears 2.25 and the Olympic standard is 2.30.
“In my 37 years in this sport, I’ve never seen a progression like that so quickly,” raved St-Hilaire.
Darlington, a two-foot dunker who is still adjusting to the one-foot takeoff of the high jump, plans to stick with it.
“Why not?” Darlington said. “If I keep progressing the way I am, this could easily take me to the Olympics.”
The first step is to get government funding by jumping 2.17 three times by October.
It’s a tough task, but he barely missed 2.15 at nationals and is getting better by the day.
“If he gets that, it would be the first time in the history of Canadian sport that a guy with so little training gets the carding minimum,” St-Hilaire said. “He has unlimited potential.”
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