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Crikey! Sandi Morris has a lot of creatures


Wake up and brew some coffee, scramble some eggs, and feed the dog -- then the lizard. That’s how Olympic silver medalist pole vaulter and avid animal lover Sandi Morris starts each day at home in Arkansas.

A fascination with insects in her backyard grew into an infatuation for all animals when the Greenville, South Carolina native discovered the “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

I spent my hours glued to the tube,” said the 2018 World Indoor Champion. “Watching that show was a huge part of my childhood, and Steve will always be my idol. He taught me to be passionate and have fun with anything I do in life.”

She convinced her mom to let her take in just about any animal one could imagine, and cared for each of them on her own. It’s no surprise that the 26-year-old’s roommates are an Italian greyhound, four lizards, three snakes, a bird, and all of the fish in her 40-gallon aquarium.

Such a variety of pets does come with its challenges, though. Between training for professional competition and caring for her critters, Morris has to have her busy life down to a staunch schedule.

She feeds Rango, the Italian greyhound, then prepares some fruit, veggies, and either a boiled egg or some chicken for her northern blue-tongue skink, Inka. Then it's off to the park with Rango for a morning jog. At that point, Morris is warmed up and ready to go for her three to four hour practice session while Rango wants nothing but a nap.

Like his mother, Rango loves to run. After practice Morris lets the Italian greyhound loose to chase her around the field inside the oval before she makes her way to physical therapy. After dinner, she brings her reptiles or bird out to show them some love while she takes some time to relax.

While it may be a part of Morris’ normal routine to care for the bevy of animals, it could be a lot to ask of one person during her frequent trips for competition. So, when the vaulter hits the road for a meet it takes a village to care for her crew.

“When I travel, I hire friends to watch my pets and house,” said Morris. “I have a person I drop my bird off with, a family I leave Rango with, and have a friend come to my house each day to water plants and feed the lizards. The snakes are good to go unless I’m gone more than three weeks.”

While Rango may need some serious attention while Morris is on the road, he’s not too hard to feed. Her reptile sitter doesn’t have much to worry about either when it comes to the low maintenance crested geckos who usually just munch on meal powder.

On the other hand, some of the pets are a bit more needy with their eating habits. Inka, the northern blue-tongued skink, gets fresh fruits and vegetables along with her hard boiled eggs or boiled chicken while Norbert, the ackie monitor, gets crickets and roaches that Morris breeds herself.

It’s safe to say when Morris is traveling for a track meet that her pets miss her just as much as she misses them. When she comes home, she’s greeted by greyhound hugs and has to have an open shoulder at all times for her bird, Indi.

“They really give me a sense of purpose and normalcy so I have more to do each day than just pole vault stuff,” said Morris. “They are an integral part of my life and happiness.”

Like most pole vaulters, Morris has a bit of an adventurous side. While she has had to scale back on the cliff diving and steep ski slopes since going pro, her quirky pets are able to fulfill some of her adventurous needs.

Natalie Uhl

USATF Communications Intern


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