Three years ago, Stacy Dragila bought a chocolate Labrador retriever and nicknamed it Sydney in the hope that her sport, women’s pole vault, would be added to the program for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
Her hope was realized, and tonight Dragila became the first gold medalist in her event. Dragila nearly exited the competition early, but regained her composure to clear 15 feet 1 inch in front of 112,524 people at Olympic stadium, nearly all of them cheering for her main rival.
”I knew I had to stay within myself and keep my head on my shoulders to perform and hopefully jump higher,” Dragila said.
After missing her first two attempts at 14-9, Dragila cleared the bar on her third try. She tends to get stronger the more jumps she takes, and tonight she outlasted Tatyana Grigoryeva, the Australian who moved here from Russia in 1997. She won the silver medal with a vault of 14-11.
The bronze medal went to Vala Flosadottir of Iceland, the first woman from her country to win an Olympic medal. Dragila attempted to surpass her own world record of 15-2 1/4, set in July at the United States Olympic trials, but she just nudged the bar off the stanchions on her third attempt at 15-3.
by: Jere Longman
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