CHAMPAIGN — Thursday, the Winter Olympic Games officially kick off in Sochi, Russia. But not all the sports competition is happening halfway across the world. Here in Central Illinois, many athletes’ dreams are just beginning. Pole vaulting is the first event we’re highlighting in our Winter Sports Spectacular Series. WCIA-3’s Erica Quednau takes us to the event.
So far, it’s been an amazing assignment. For the next 18 days, we’re learning all about local sports ranging from pickle-ball to hockey to pole vaulting. The sport takes a lot of practice and guts and it’s not the most well-known.
“It seemed really interesting that you could go really high, so I tried out in sixth grade and I made it.”
Or the easiest to practice.
“With other events, you can do run anywhere. Practices are pretty easy. Pole vault requires a lot, a lot of accessories.”
But, it is easy to love.
“I picked up that pole for the first time and I vaulted into the mat for the first time and I just instantly fell in love with it I guess.”
About 12 years ago, Bryan Carrel started the PV Junkies Vault Club. The career choice seemed obvious.
“I was just shocked that one of the few places in the world that you can manufacture pole vaulting poles, pits and stuff. There was no club available.”
He’s talking about Gill Athletics, the place Carrel works full-time. But, pole vaulting is where his heart is.
“It’s just something that, no matter what path I’ve chased in my life, it just kind of the been there thing that, it’s been my passion. And, I’ve managed to make my career out of it which not a lot of people get to do.”
He’s helping grow that passion right here in Central Illinois.
“It’s really nice because, the only time I would get practice is in March and April, the track season, and now I can get it in the summer and the winter.”
“He offers everything that has made me go higher.”
“I have a passion for the event. And, whether I had two kids in this club or 200, I would continue to do it.”
The feeling is mutual.
“If you practice a lot, you can get higher and higher and higher because you have different poles and everything. So, I definitely want to keep doing it.”
“I just love the feeling that you get whenever you can clear that bar, you know? It’s just an awesome feeling whenever you hit the mat and the bar’s still up there.”
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