Janson was always pursuing some athletic endeavor, and her first love was gymnastics. The Sarasota, Fla., native was 7 or 8 years old and vividly remembers family members watching her compete and the aunts and uncles casually asking the question to see what kind of response they will get: Are you going to the Olympics?
Janson didn’t give it much thought before replying, “Yeah. It’s easy.”
Janson remembers the goosebumps every four years when she watched the Olympics on television. She thought about it as a gymnast and later when she turned her attention toward volleyball.
With her focus on volleyball, Janson thought about playing the sport in college as a springboard to one day playing on the Olympic level.
“I came to a Florida State volleyball camp, and they whipped the tar out of me,” Janson said. “I was just winded. So I went out for track.”
And about that time, Dan O’Brien won the decathlon in 1996 at the Atlanta Games. Janson, then 13, was watching on television.
“I was baby-sitting and the kids had gone to sleep,” Janson said. “And I remember very clearly I was watching the decathletes pole vault. And Dan O’Brien was the big star, and that’s what they were highlighting. I clearly remember thinking, ‘I could never do that.’ I thought the box was the size of a doughnut.
“So you have to run really fast and aim it right into that doughnut hole and then do all the rest.”
The thought was crazy. But the memory of watching O’Brien stuck with her that next school year as she walked down the pole vault lane and checked out the “doughnut.”
Janson tried it out, and she was good. She won a state title at Cardinal Mooney High and then claimed the national high school title. In 2001, she took gold at the Junior Pan American Games.
At FSU, she owns the school pole vault record and collected a trophy case full of titles.
“The whole process seems to have gone really fast, except when you’re in it, and it’s been difficult and frustrating,” Janson said. “All of these years and it’s like, ‘Here I am in the most frustrating sport.’
“But then you stick with it, you get this little spark of confidence, and then all of a sudden you are jumping really well again, and you’ve made the Olympic team.”