Red-shirt sophomore pole vaulter Jade Riebold attempts to make it over the bar during the EIU John Craft Invite in the Lantz Fieldhouse Jan. 21.
Over 600 coaches and athletes held up signs, shouted, even took to Facebook, Twitter and the USATF website to give Jade Riebold her chance at qualifying for the Olympics Sunday.
But when she tried to check in, Sue Humphries wouldn’t have it.
“I was at my lake house in South Carolina when I got a call at 2 a.m. saying that I could compete in the trials,” Riebold said. “There were no flights scheduled from the area to Oregon at that time.”
She was forced to scramble and finally shot across the nation to Eugene, Ore. at about 4 p.m., despite the worry of a potential rain delay.
“Everything happened so quickly,” Riebold said. “Calls and texts saying, ‘Jade, you’re in!’”
Her name had been on the list for three months for the Olympic Trials behind three women who had questionable heights on their vaults. After petitions from coaches the night before competition, the athletes were disqualified and Jade got her call to compete.
But Humphries, in charge of check-in for the finalists, told her that her name was not on the list.
“She said I had to be there, in person, on Friday in order to qualify.” Riebold said, “She said I should’ve flown out way earlier.”
The situation called into question the need to alert Riebold in the first place if it was literally impossible for her to make it on time.
“I could’ve done a really good job,” Riebold said. “Its been my dream for the last four years. I have posters and things in my apartment saying ‘Olympic Trials 2012.’ It’s unbelievable. Crazy. They took my dream away.”
This triggered a fast response from her fellow athletes.
“Everything happened very quickly.” Riebold said.
The news spread between fellow competitors, and the effort to get Jade Riebold back onto the finalist list commenced.
“Everyone went on Twitter, Facebook pole vault sites, saying ‘Please let Jade in!’”Riebold said.
But to no avail.
Within all of the chaos, pouring rain forced the skipping of the preliminaries and the finals were set to take place with all competitors advancing, including Riebold.
But in the end, the three previously disqualified vaulters were allowed to compete on Sunday.
And on top of that, the three registered NH (No height, or not clearing the bar) calls anyway.
A height of 14.5 came in at fourth place, good enough for London. A height that Riebold was confident she could get on a good day.
Riebold has left Oregon for Seattle where she will wait to take a flight back home. She is now refocusing and preparing to start training in August for the next World Championships.
“I should’ve made the Olympics,” Riebold said. “They took my dream away, but I’m not going to give up.”
By Danny Damiani