Ashley Bryant and John Lane, two of Great Britain’s Olympic hopefuls this summer, have been reunited with the missing poles they use in pole vault competitions as part of the decathlon.
But is it too late?
Bryant, especially, is a medal contender later this summer at the Rio Summer Olympics competing in the decathlon, an incredible test of strength, speed, endurance and stamina over a series of 10 different events, including the pole vault.
He got his poles back from Swiss Air on Sunday – too late to have used them over the weekend at a qualifying event in Austria where he fell 44 points shy of the Olympic qualifying standard of 8,100 points.
The decathlon is considered the measuring stick for the title of “world’s greatest athlete.” Bryant had to use borrowed poles. Originally booked on EasyJet, his flight was canceled and he was forced to make a last-minute booking on Swiss Air. It took the airline three days to return the equipment, well after the competition ended.
Lane withdrew after the first day of competition as he was unable to borrow a pole that matched the same size of his own.
Bryant used his borrowed equipment to vault but struggled to clear 4.4 meters, or roughly 14 feet, 4.8 inches – his best is more than a foot higher at 15 feet, 4 inches.
“… I think not having them was the decisive thing,” Bryant told The Guardian newspaper. “I know if I had my set of poles the qualifying would be done so it is frustrating – I needed 4.60m to make it.”
He is hoping, however, that England’s Olympic body will cut him some slack on the extenuating circumstances. A spokesman told the newspaper that “We are aware of the difficulties Ashley has faced and we will look at this as an individual case.”
Lane’s coach, Toni Minichiello, said this is a common issue.
“Some airlines take them, some don’t,” he told the newspaper. “When the flight was canceled, John spoke to Swiss Air and before he paid anything (he) wanted to make sure that these will get on. They said ‘yes’.”