European Summer (Part 1 of 3)

It has been a while and as many of you know, from following my Twitter & Facebook this summer, it has been quite a ride!  I decided to break up this huge blog update into 3 posts.  This one will be a general overview of all my competitions throughout this summer.  Here goes…

After my heartbreak 4th place finish at US Nationals the end of June, I got a call that I was in the Birmingham Diamond League.  Between my sobs outside the Drake Stadium, I tried to put together a half smile.  I had just had a slightly off day and missed the World Championship team that I was banking on being a part of, but the Birmingham news helped snap be back into it and realize I still was wanted by the top meet directors and I had a job to do this summer.  After an entire night of tears I pulled myself together, went home for one day, packed my bags, and left for Europe for 5 weeks.  I told myself that I still had a lot left to show the world and I was going to make a statement over there this summer.

My first competition was in Reims, France on June 28th.  For the first time ever I flew overseas the day before the competition.  Because of the quick turnaround time between Nationals and this competition I had no choice.  I usually fly in 2 days prior to a meet in order to give myself 2 nights sleep to attempt to adjust to the time difference.  Reims turned out to be a cool, slightly rainy evening.  I ended up winning the meet jumping 4.51m (14’9).  I clearly didn’t feel in tip top form after the emotional week I had, the travel, and the bad weather.  However I was happy with that result given the circumstances.  I won a beautiful bouquet of flowers which I was forced to give up before flying to the UK the next day.

Two days later was the Birmingham Diamond League Meet with the big dogs.  Aside from Olympic Gold Medalist, Jenn Suhr, I was the only other American in the field.  It turned out to be a beautiful day, however they decided to have us jump in the wrong direction.  We jumped directly into a blasting head wind.  It was the worst wind I have ever attempted to jump into.  Everyone struggled.  I cleared my opening bar of 4.38m (14’4) but that was it.  It was my worst result of the season.  I walked away annoyed that the meet made a bad call about which direction to have us jump, however I took it for what it was and knew I had given it my all in the tough conditions.  I was hungry though for good conditions…

Next stop was a trip back to France in Sotteville.  Once again another good field of competition.  My partner in crime, Kylie Hutson arrived in Europe for this meet so it was great to have her back competing by my side!  I ended up clearing 4.60m for 2nd place behind the London Olympic silver medalist who cleared 4.70m.  I was pretty happy with this meet because I finally felt good.

Following France was a meet in Heusden, Belgium.  I did this competition 2 years ago in the pouring rain, but this year was dry!  Yay!  After my Sotteville performance I came in ready to jump some high bars.  However, for some reason I had about the worst warmups of my life.  I couldn’t get my steps figured out and I actually got slightly rejected for the first time in my life!!  This never happens to me!  For those of you who don’t know what it means to get rejected, it is when you take off the ground holding onto your pole and the pole doesn’t completely rotate into the pit so your body gets sent back down the runway in the direction you came from.  Not good, but this is bound to happen to every vaulter at one point or another.  My rejection wasn’t bad at all, thankfully.  I just landed on the very front of the mat.  Still, it was quite unlike me.  Next warm up I adjusted slightly and just hit a good one to give me confidence for when the competition started.  Long story short, given my horrible warmups I managed to clear 4.60m (15’1) easily for the win 🙂

Luzern, Switzerland was next.  I competed in this meet two years ago and it is one of my favorites!  Switzerland is so gorgeous and this meet treats us so well!  We each are given a Lindt chocolate bar when we check in that is no joke the best chocolate bar I have EVER had!!! When I went back to Switzerland later in the summer I bought a whole pack of them to bring home (I’m trying to have self control and not eat them all at once).  Anyways, this was a completely loaded field!  It was Diamond League status and I knew going in that this was going to be a great opportunity to push me towards a new PR!  I ended up clearing 4.61m (15’1) and had some great attempts at a new PR of 4.71m(15’5).  My first ttempt at 4.71m was one of my best jumps ever!  I was completely over the bar and just barely came down on it on the backside to knock it off. GRRRRR!!!  It was tough to watch the video after, but I was happy still because I knew I was jumping so well!  Always taking the positives from every competition.

Jockgrim, Germany was next.  This competition is one I have heard about for years!  Every vaulter loves it!!  It’s a vault only meet in small town Jockgrim.   Like 4500 people come out to watch and cheer us on!  That’s like over half the town.  How cool is that???  The set up is awesome with tons of fans on both sides, beer stands, crepes, german sausage, etc.  Plus the DJ just makes it a true party!  The music is blasted and it’s just a great time.  I ended up clearing 4.60m (15’1) AGAIN (grrrrr-kinda) and placing 2nd behind the German national record holder and 4th place finisher from the World Championships who went 4.65m.  I took shots at 4.70m but didn’t quite have it in the legs after a long competition unfortunately.  I had an absolute blast though and cannot wait to return next year!!!

My final stop before heading home was the London Diamond League at the London Olympic Stadium.  I was pumped to be in this meet because 1. all the top girls were in it 2. it was at the Olympic stadium 3. it was the last major competition before the World Championships so I was happy to know that even though I had missed the team, I was still considered one of the top vaulters enough to be in this meet 4. the meet was in a sold out stadium of 65,000 people-UNREAL!!!!  So for some reason my warmups weren’t very smoothe.  I couldn’t quite get in a groove, so I just kept telling myself to have trust and do my thing once the bar went up.  In front of a sold out crowd of 65,000 fans I cleared 4.53m (14’10) for 6th place based on misses.  I really was kinda struggling unfortunately, but I embraced the electric atmosphere and can’t be too ashamed of a 4.53m on an off day.

The next stop was home to Boston for 2 weeks during the World Championships.

After Worlds I went back to Europe for 4 more competitions.  First was a street meet in Zweibrucken, Germany.  I was feeling super low energy and tired after the jetlag, more than normal for this meet so I really had to dig deep to clear some bars.  I ended up winning with a 4.51m (14’9) clearance in front of a great small town crowd!  The trophy for the win was a ginormous cup full of beer which held a 6 pack of beers!  It was pretty cool, not gonna lie.  Those crazy Germans and their beer!  And yes, I managed to get it home by carrying it onto the plane 🙂

I went to Switzerland between Zweibrucken and my next competition to spend time with Swiss vaulters Nicole Buchler and Anna Schmid, along with Canadian vaulter Heather Hamilton.  Spending a week with these girls was such a blast!  I’ll talk about some of our adventures in my next blog part 2!  After the week we headed back to Germany for a meet in Beckum.  This was my 3rd year in a row doing this competition.  It’s women’s vault only and it is such a blast!  They draw a huge crowd, especially for a small town, blast the music, and fans drink beer and cheer us on.  I ended up placing 3rd with a jump of 4.50m (14’9) behind the 4th and 5th place finishers at the World Championships this year.

The Zurich Diamond League was next.  This was the final Diamond League with women’s pole vault for the year so all the big names were in it.  I felt money this day!!! I was so pumped and completely in the zone.  The sold out Zurich crowd helped raise the energy level.  I ended up clearing 4.52m (14’10) easily and was sure I was going to jump high.  Well one thing lead to another, things just didn’t quite line up right at 4.62m.  It was a combination of standard placement and pole selection.  Pole vault can be so frustrating sometimes.  I walked away disappointed from this one because of how awesome I felt.  So I picked my head up and moved onto the next one.

The final stop on my European adventure was Roveretto, Italy.  After the hype of the Zurich Diamond League, Roveretto was a little tricky to get my adrenaline flowing unfortunately.  The weather was nice and I wanted to end the year on a high note, but I think I almost put too much pressure on myself.  I ended up clearing 4.51m.  Yes, things could have gone a lot worse, but I wanted them to go so much better.  I took 2 shots at 4.61m then took my final jump of the season at what would have been a PR of 4.71m (15’5).  I was bummed of course to end on that note, however I decided to take a step back and look at the year as a whole.  Wow…I had a hell of a year.  Consistency was my middle name, and consistency is always a great thing.  I also had competed 30 times this year and my body was tired.  I had to admit that to myself a little bit.  Finally, I reminded myself that I had cleared a huge PR of 4.70m this year AND finished ranked top 10 in the world!!!  Now I’d say taking all that into account, it’s been a pretty solid year 🙂  Yes, there are things I wish would have went different, however I am taking away all positives and couldn’t be more excited about what the future has in store!

Part 2 coming soon… Thanks for reading 🙂

mary saxer 2
mary saxer 2


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