EUGENE -- Three members of Team USA will celebrate birthdays before the IAAF World Junior Championships conclude July 27, and one athlete had the joy of both reaching the podium and setting an American Junior record on her special occasion.
Pole vaulter Desiree Freier
(Fort Worth, Texas) competed in the finals Thursday, July 24 on her 18th birthday. Freier waited until 4.10m/13-5.5 to make her first attempt in the pole vault competition, and she cleared that height on her third and final jump to advance to the final.
Prior to competing, Frier said,”I’m not sure what to truly think about it it. I mean it’s cool competing on [my birthday]; but at the end of the day, what I get off that track is important to me. I’m assuming it’s like good luck, and hopefully I do well.”
In the women’s pole vault final, her first miss didn’t come until the opening attempt at 4.40m/14-5.25, but she recovered to clear it on her second attempt, which set an American Junior record.
“The meet went well overall, but I learned that everyday there is more & more competition. When you’re in a meet, you just have to do your very best. Even when you’re tired, push on. It’s like that old saying my grandpa used to tell me, ‘If you want it, you fight for it and take it.”
With the next bar at another AJR height, 4.45m/14-7.25, Freier sailed over on her first try to stay tied for first. She missed three times at 4.50m/14-9 to earn the silver medal.
“It was pretty awesome,” the silver medalist said. “I didn’t know I was going to do as well as I did. My goal was to jump 14-9, but I still broke the outdoor record again, getting an American Junior Record.”
Freier becomes the first Team USA woman ever to medal in the pole vault at IAAF World Junior Championships.
“Even looking back at my first 14-foot jump, it never really sinks in that I’ve jumped that high. I know that I did, but I just don’t believe it.”
When asked how she celebrated her birthday, Freier smiled and said, “I went to sleep.”
Also celebrating a birthday during World Juniors is Clarence Gallop
(Providence, Rhode Island) of Charleston Southern turns 19 on the final day of the competition, Sunday, July 27.
Leading up to his first throws at World Juniors, Gallop said, “I haven’t really been thinking about my birthday as much just thinking about competition. We all want Team USA at the top of the medal table. We want to win. We want to pound it, get the job done and be successful.”
Gallop competed during the morning session of Day Three, marking his longest throw at 65.95m/216-4 on his first attempt. Unfortunately he did not make it to the final.
“My mom told me that just getting here is a big step,” said Gallop. “I’ll be 19 [tomorrow], so next is making it to the U-23 team.”
The third and final birthday athlete is Josephus Lyles
(Alexandria, Virginia), who celebrated his special day on the first day of the championships, July 22.
“It was cool and everybody was really nice,” he said about celebrating his day with the team. “I didn’t do anything special, but it felt like I was with family.”
Lyles, at only 16, is the youngest member of Team USA.
“It feels good knowing I made the team so young,” said Lyles, “and I’m learning a lot from all the older people sharing their experiences with me and showing me how to do things.”
Lyles is in the 4x400 meter relay pool that will compete for the first time in today’s prelims.
for the complete IAAF World Junior Championships Schedule.
for the medal table.