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Jesse Owens Awards teleconference excerpts


Jill Geer
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field
(508) 520-1529

USATF on Friday hosted a media teleconference with 2001 Jesse Owens Award winners Stacy Dragila and John Godina. Below are excerpts from that teleconference.

Q: Were either of you surprised to win?

DRAGILA: I’m always delighted to be honored in receiving an award, especially this one. I won it last year and just to be recognized last year amongst my peers with other Olympians having wonderful contests at the Olympics … winning again, it shows that the women’s pole vault is being more and more recognized and valued. It’s really neat to see two field event athletes take away the Jesse Owens Award.

GODINA: I don’t know if it is surprise, but I knew it was going to be a tight race. I figured Maurice (Greene) would edge us out, especially with his performance at the World Championships, gutting it out in the final meters like he did. I’m pleased to get this again – it doesn’t happen too often.

Q. Where do you see your events heading? How high and how far? Where do you fit into that scheme?

DRAGILA: The women’s pole vault is on the rise right now and getting credibility from the Olympics and being part of the Grand Prix Final. Having great head-to-head competitions shows there is great depth in the event, and it’s opened a new event for women in high school and college and beyond. It’s exciting when we go to camps - women outnumber the men right now. It’s kind of a daredevil event, and I think that has really intrigued this generation into trying the event.

I like to think my record will last for a long time, but with the other competitors out there, I don’t think it’s going to last very long. Personally, I’d like to jump 5 meters. If I get to that mark, I’ll be very excited. Anything beyond that would be icing on the cake. With girls getting started in junior high and high school now, I think you’ll see 5.18, 5.20 mark in the next 10 years. I think that’s where you’ll see women top out.

GODINA: I’m different from Stacy because she was starting from scratch (in a new event). Those records in the shot put, I think everybody has written off as impossible to do without cheating. But I think you see a few athletes that could pull off those records clean, and I think I’m one of them. There are a couple of other up and coming athletes who are capable of it. I think the trick is the perseverance and time that it takes to achieve that. I think I’ll do it in the next 5 years. If I don’t do it in the next five years, it won’t happen for me. Will it happen, guaranteed? Not as guaranteed as those women’s vault records. I think you’ll see 1 or 2 records broken every year in the women’s vault. But I think it’s one of those things that when it does happen in the shot put, it should be a really, really big celebration because it’s something to pull off. I would put that in the 9.6, 9.5 100m clean category.

What are you plans for 2002? DRAGILA: I have a pretty full indoor series – I’m doing the Pole Vault Summit in Reno the third week in January, then the Millrose Games. I’m going to be in Europe all of February doing the Energizer series, then come to the States to do U.S. nationals.

GODINA: Outdoors, I’ve got the Grand Prix circuit to do, then I’m going to do the U.S. Championships. It’s very important this year because only first place gets to go to the World Cup.

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