Family ties help create Olympic hopes

SARASOTA – Lacy Janson never doubted that she would have plenty of family support when she spends her time in the spotlight at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Pole vaulting is a family affair in the Janson houseshold, and every member of the immediate family will be in London to watch Lacy take her turn on the runway.

Father. Mother. Sisters and brother. They will all be there in the stands, like they have so many steps of the way to this Olympic dream. They will be there cheering and supporting Janson as the Cardinal Mooney High graduate attempts to medal on the biggest stage possible.

Parents, Charles and Laurie. Siblings, Kristen and Brittany and Charles Jr. They broke the bank on airline tickets and accommodations to have the chance to watch Lacy in the spotlight.

The Janson family, along with Janson’s fiancé, Warren Harper, will take the same flight out of JFK in New York on Wednesday and be there to watch the pole vault preliminaries on Saturday.

“I knew they would get over there,” Janson said Wednesday as she left for London. “That’s just the way they are, it’s the support they have always given.”

Janson’s parents have been there for her throughout her pole vaulting career, which began in 2000 when she took up the sport as a junior at Cardinal Mooney and continued at Florida State.

And Janson has a connection with her sisters and brother that goes beyond the usual family bond. Both her sisters and brother took up pole vaulting. They know what it means to reach the heights their sister has achieved.

“I think they saw how much fun Lacy was having,” Laurie Janson said about the family embracing the sport. “It’s crazy to me because it is such a scary thing. But they all loved it, so go figure.”

All four of the Janson children became state contenders in high school in the sport and all four went on to pole vault at Florida State.

“They kept each other company,” Charles Sr. said. “They all overlapped at some point up there.”

“We are very close,” Lacy Janson says.

So close that Kristin made a 10-hour trip from Lake Tahoe, Nev., to Eugene, Ore., after a full day of work to watch her sister compete in the Olympic Trials last month. She then drove 10 hours after the meet to be back in time to go to work the next day.

John Raleigh, who coached all four of the Janson siblings at Cardinal Mooney, says they all had the same type of competitiveness and love for the sport.

“I think I could have gotten their father to try the sport if I pushed it,” Raleigh said.

Laurie Janson would have been a different matter.

“I was not into athletics,” Laurie Janson says. “I played the flute in high school. She then quickly adds, “But I did birth an Olympian.”

Even the extended family has taken up the cause.

Grandmother Carolyn Janson can turn any conversation, with anyone, to pole vaulting and Janson’s exploits. Lacy Janson’s maternal grandparents, who reside in Lakeland, never hesitate to show photos to anyone willing to look.

And there may be no more passionate supporter than her uncle Ken Smith. He follows every meet, usually keeping up via a laptop computer wherever he might be at the time. He even went so far as to contact one meet organizer because Lacy Janson’s name was misspelled.

This week Smith came up with red, white and blue T-shirts with Lacy’s name on them that he designed and gave to the rest of the family.

He also produced buttons with Lacy’s photo on them.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Lacy Janson said about a family gathering on Lido Beach Tuesday night. “Family and friends were wearing T-shirts with my name on them. “Nobody has ever made T-shirts for me before.”

But then, nobody in the family has made it to the Olympics before either.

by: Mic Huber


Lacy Janson
Lacy Janson

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