By 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, competition had ceased at the qualifying round of the men’s pole vault in Olympic Stadium in London. With 32 vaulters beginning the competition, the round had been long and grueling. As vaulters tire, the possibility for injury increases dramatically. One vaulter had already stunned the crowd when his pole broke into three pieces, tossing him violently into the pit. The judges decided to “call” the round.
Fifteen vaulters had already been eliminated. Two vaulters had cleared 5.65 meters (18 feet, 6 inches). Six had cleared 5.6 meters. Nine had cleared 5.5 meters, but one had an earlier miss at that height, and two had two misses. In most meets, everyone who clears the same height in one of their three attempts advances, but this was not an ordinary meet. The judges could qualify the top 8, 14, 15 or 17. How many would move on to the final round and a chance for the gold medal?
Finally, the judges’ decision was posted on the giant video screen hanging strategically above the Olympic flame. The top 14 finishers would advance. Jeremy Scott was number 15, and we all watched helplessly as his Olympic dream for 2012 was crushed.
Jeremy Scott is our son-in-law. My husband, David, and I attended the Olympics with our daughter, Sarah, and six members of Jeremy’s family. As we watched the results flash on the screen, we turned to one another in disbelief and disappointment. Hank Scott, Jeremy’s father, said, “I prayed so hard that he would make the Olympic team. I guess we got greedy when we wanted more after he made the team.”
I don’t think we got greedy. Moving on to the finals seemed only fair after all the physical training, traveling, time away from family, and financial hardship Jeremy has endured to compete at this level. However, this just wasn’t Jeremy’s year. He spent most of the year trying to recover from severe tendonitis in his knee and only competed in a couple of meets. Ironically, his knee was feeling much better at the Olympics, and he says that may have been part of the problem. “I could run so much faster because my knee felt better, but I hadn’t trained at that pace. I just couldn’t get in the rhythm.”
The other American vaulters also had problems. Jeremy’s good friend and mentor, three-time Olympian Derek Miles, no-heighted at the preliminaries and ended his long and successful career. American record holder Brad Walker made it to the finals, but no-heighted there. The pole vault, this year, belonged to the Europeans.
by: Jewell Mayberry
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