EUGENE, Ore. – If there’s a worse feeling in sports, it’s hard to imagine what it could be: Fourth place at the Olympic Trials.
Given what it means, Notre Dame graduate and South Bend resident Mary Saxer deserves credit for maintaining her composure as well as she did after she missed a spot on the U.S. Olympic team by one place Sunday afternoon.
Because it was tough.
“Yeah, it just hurts really bad,” said Saxer, who cleared 14 feet, 9 inches, the same as Nike’s Lacy Janson, before a boisterous sold-out crowd at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
American record holder Jenn Suhr cleared 15-1 for the win, while former Oregon star Becky Holliday went 14-11 for second. Saxer and Janson were both third.
The rules of pole vault declare that in the case of a tie, the vaulter who needed the least number of attempts to clear her last successful height is the winner.
Janson made it over 14-9 on her first try, while Saxer needed two attempts. Thus, Janson received the nod to go to the London Olympic later this summer, while Saxer is the team’s alternate.
“Clearing the same height as the third-place girl … pole vault gets you on misses,” Saxer said. “I was over that next height. It would have got me there, and I felt like I had it on my second attempt, but … that’s pole vault.”
Saxer was oh-so-close to clearing 14-11 on her second attempt, just brushing the bar as it came down.
“My standard placement was just a little too far back,” said Saxer. “I was over it and then clipped it a little bit on the way down. It’s really unfortunate.”
By TIM CREASON