Former Tiger standout competing in men’s pole vault Aug. 13.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Let the 2016 Olympic Summer Games begin!
On Friday night, the Games’ Opening Ceremonies take center stage, and one of the thousand-plus athletes walking in the event is former University of Memphis track and field standout Pauls Pujats. The former Tiger qualified for the men’s pole vault as a member of the Latvian national team.
Pujats qualified for the Latvian track and field Olympic squad with an 18-8.25 (5.70m) vault. Tyler Fraizer, a member of the Tigers coaching staff, is joining Pujats in Rio as he was named to the Latvian track and field Olympic coaching staff in mid-July.
Pujats’ quest for gold begins Aug. 13 at approximately 6:20 p.m. (CT) with the men’s pole vault qualifying. He is one of 32 pole vaulters in the competition. Twelve pole vaulter advance to the Aug. 15 event finals at 6:35 p.m. (CT).
A member of the Tigers track and field program from 2012-15, Pujats earned three All-America honors (two outdoor/one indoor) and finished as the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships runner-up in the men’s pole vault. He posted his collegiate personal-best with an 18-2.5 (5.55m) mark in his 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships second-place finish. For his effort, Pujats received All-America first team recognition.
The Riga, Latvia, native also competed at the 2014 NCAA Championships for both indoor and outdoor seasons. He placed third at the national indoors (All-America first team) and 10th at the NCAA outdoor meet (All-America second team).
Pujats swept the 2014 American Athletic Conference pole vault crowns (indoor and outdoor) and placed second in the pole vault at the 2013 Conference USA indoor and outdoor championships. In his collegiate career, Pujats won 15 men’s pole vault titles.
Pujats graduated from Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and international trade in May of 2015.