Rio de Janeiro: Kurtis Marschall speaks with the youthful exuberance and endearing language of a teenager. It’s probably because he is one. But the South Australian – who won’t turn 20 until Anzac Day next year – nearly achieved something very few Australian teenagers do: make an Olympic final.
Marschall cleared 5.60m on Saturday night (Brazil time) at the Estadio Olimpico to finish 15th in the men’s pole vault qualifying. Only nine other athletes jumped higher than him, but Marschall missed the 12-man final on a countback.
Had he matched his personal best of 5.70m set six weeks ago in Germany, Marschall would have advanced. Still he was beaming after his maiden Olympic appearance, a night which allowed him to share a stadium with superstar athletes Mo Farah and David Rudisha.
“I reckon I’m pretty proud of myself,” Marschall said afterwards.
“I’m pretty stoked. I would have loved to have jumped 5.70 and made the final, that would have just topped it off.
“Just missed it … oh well that’s the game.”
Marschall missed his first two attempts at 5.60m, before clearing the bar with his third. Having had a “pretty dodgy session” a few days ago, he said the crowd lifted him on Saturday night.
Having benefited from the guidance of Steve Hooker – the Australian who won this event at the Beijing Games two Olympiads ago – Marschall is now eyeing a spot in the final of next year’s World Championships in London. He said he would learn from this experience. “I think I’ll go into future competitions just thinking about myself and then doing what’s best for myself.”
The Tokyo Olympics in four years’ time loom large as well. And apparently so too do the 2024 Games, the 2028 Games, and the 2032 Games.
“I know some guys competing at the Olympics, aged 35 and up. So hopefully I can have another three or so Olympics in me, that’d be pretty cool. What would that make me? [Actually] why not four? I just love representing my country. I just want to keep on doing it for as long as I can.”
It seems like Marschall enjoys the ambience of the Olympics too. “When I arrived at the Olympic village, that was pretty awesome,” he said.
“[And] the dining hall, that was pretty good. So many people there, it’s absolutely insane.”