Kate Hall-Harnden won the women’s long jump at the 2017 NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon. Timothy J. Gonzalez/Associated Press

U.S. and NCAA long jump champion Kate Hall-Harnden of Casco will not have a chance to compete in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, according to a post on her Instagram account late Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t even know how to explain the way I’m feeling right now…” Hall-Harnden posted.

She said one week before her first meet in a year, she was at the gym and tipped over a 30-inch box as she landed on the back edge of it. Trying to catch her fall, Hall-Harnden explained, she hyperextended her left knee.

“Initially I was confident it was just sore from the hyperextension, but after an MRI on Tuesday, I found out that I completely tore my ACL,” she explained. “I’ve heard from so many others in the past how long the rehab/recovery time is, but I never ever imagined I would be added to the long list of athletes who have suffered an ACL injury.

“I’m completely devastated to have to say that since the recovery is so long, the Olympics are out of the question for this year.”

Hall-Harnden, who is a Type-1 diabetic with celiac disease, vowed: “This is definitely NOT the end for me, though. Strength has been engrained in me since I was diagnosed with type one diabetes at age 10… Don’t count me out. I promise I will be back sooner than you think.”

Hall-Harnden has been eyeing the Olympics for years. She was a hoping to earn a spot at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials this June after winning the national indoor long jump title in 2019 and finishing second in 2020. In the last full track and field season, she was sixth in the U.S. outdoor rankings.

As a homeschooled senior competing for Lake Region High School, Hall-Harnden set a meet record when she won the long jump at the 2015 New Balance national indoor track and field championships with a jump of 20 feet, 11 1/4 inches. She then won the national high school outdoor title with a leap of 22-5 that erased a 39-year-old national high school record.

At the University of Georgia, she won two NCAA long jump titles – outdoors in 2017 and indoors in 2018.

She posted her best indoor jump as a professional of 21-11 1/2 at the U.S. championships last winter.

But Hall-Harnden has faced adversity throughout her track and field career. She first went to Iowa State on a track and field scholarship in 2015. At her first NCAA championships during the indoor season, she went into the meet ranked fourth but finished 12th with a jump of 20-1. Later, she credited her lackluster performance to overtraining, and chose to transfer to Georgia before her sophomore year.

At Georgia, training with the nation’s top triple jumper, Keturah Orji, Hall-Harnden rebounded – and as a sophomore won the NCAA long jump title outdoors with a school-record distance of 22-1. She added another NCAA title the following indoor season, again at 22-1 – Georgia’s indoor record. She also earned All-American honors in the 60 meters at the 2018 indoor meet, finishing sixth, and her time of 7.17 seconds in the preliminary round was another school record.

However, in the spring of 2018 – after failing to make the long jump finals at the NCAA outdoor championships – Hall-Harnden chose to leave Georgia and turn professional, working with South Portland trainer Chris Pribish, who coached her in high school.

Since then, Hall-Harnden has secured sponsorship deals with Asics and Sola, a food company that specializes in low-glycemic snacks. She also partnered with Omnipod, a company that makes a wireless insulin management technology that she has used for 10 years. She has represented the company as an inspirational speaker at national conferences on Type-1 diabetes.

“We have overcome obstacles Kate’s entire career. This is just another chapter in her career that will show her strength, determination and will to succeed,” said Pribish.

“We will set new goals for next indoor season and the following outdoor worlds, and you can believe she will be ready. We will be doing rehab while also maintaining her total body strength and conditioning simultaneously. There is no doubt in my mind she will be back on top.”

Hall-Harnden’s stated goal is to become the first known U.S. track and field Olympian with Type-1 diabetes.

She was so focused on making the 2021 Olympics the she and her fiance, Tyler Harnden, moved the date of their wedding from this spring to last October so that it would not conflict with the U.S. Olympic trials, which were pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.


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