Because of unrelenting rain, the Women’s Pole Vault preliminaries were cancelled and all competitors were automatically advanced to the finals today, making it a 27-flight final. When asked how this automatic finals qualification affected her strategy, University of Southern California graduate, Brysun Stately said, “I tried not to think about it. You just had to treat it the same way you would if it had been a prelim or a final anywhere else. Just go in there and first attempt everything and try to get through it and not act like it’s anything major.”
Finishing ninth overall with a vault of 4.25m/13-11 ¼, Stately talked about the challenges faced by unattached athletes that are unknown to those with corporate sponsorships. “Its been a little bit more difficult because I don't have the financial support the others have—like the equipment—I’ve been having to borrow stuff from people.”
Reaching this level of competition is outstanding by itself, but getting here without the coveted corporate financial support, while holding down a job, is even more impressive. In preparation for the Trials though, Stately was forced to quit her job to focus on her training. “I quit my real job. They weren’t liking that I was traveling so much so I quit it a few months ago.”
The economy isn’t currently at its kindest, so the question of what comes next for athletes who don't go on to London is ever-present at these Trials. Sponsored athletes are likely on contract with their sponsors, but what about unattached athletes with no such backing? Fortunately, Stately has a Plan B: “I’ll vault throughout the summer and luckily I’m getting married, so he’ll pay for everything! That's going to help out a lot.”
This is Stately’s second time at the Olympic Trials. Her first appearance was at the 2008 Trials, also in Eugene, where she no-heighted in the opening round and did not advance to the finals. Stately is an NCAA All-American and held the University of Nebraska Pole Vault record for four years with a vault of 4.35m/14-3 ¼.
Contributed by Amber James