Some of Canada’s pole vaulters are taking their talents from the track to the streets of London Thursday.
In conjunction with the London Ribfest, the London Western Track and Field Club will host their first Vault the Park, a street pole vault event, on Central Avenue next to Victoria Park.
London Western club manager Derrick Johnston said the free event is about awareness.
“It’s about bringing awareness not just to the sport of pole vault, but . . . (to) track and field,” he said. “Track and field is the most popular sport during the Summer Games, so it’s a good opportunity to showcase local talent.”
London’s Alysha Newman, who will represent Canada at the Rio Olympics in pole vault, will compete alongside Robin Bone, a Western athlete who holds the Canadian Interuniversity Sport pole vault record.
Both will compete in the elite women’s division that kicks off at 3 p.m, following the co-ed open competition that gets underway at 11 a.m. The men will jump at 6 p.m., headlined by former national champion Jason Wurster.
Bone and Newman are no strangers to street vaulting events, and both agree the more casual street model draws larger crowds who get closer to the action.
“It’s almost like a circus show in a way for people. It’s not everyday you see someone flying 14 to 15 feet (4.5 m) in the air,” said Bone.
Newman said she is excited to jump in the streets of London and to reconnect with her hometown.
“I’m excited to be home and have the opportunity to show people what I’ve been working hard at for four years,” she said. “I can’t wait to have (the community) jump with me through the journey and to Rio and to other Olympics down the road.”