Altendorf on ‘one of the most exciting experiences of my … career’
The next two heights were clean makes but it became obvious I needed to be on a bigger pole so I moved to my 13-6 155. My first attempt at the 12-4 record was flawed; although I can’t remember why, I wasn’t even close. The second attempt was a strong jump with plenty of height over the bar, but an old technique problem of mine caused me to bump the bar on the way down.
Instead of hollowing my chest to keep it away from the bar, I threw my arms back too soon, which extended my chest out like “superman flying.” Although frustrated, I had confidence I could correct that mistake and clear the bar on my next jump and I did. I cleared the bar cleanly and with extra height, securing the record at 12-4 (technically 3.75m, as records are kept in metric measure).
At this point I had jumped six times and my last vault was very good. If I could repeat the last vault at the next height, I had a great chance of adding 4 more inches to the previous record jump. Conditions were ideal, but I was nervous, and my heart was pumping fast. Fortunately, everything went well on my first attempt at 12-8 (3.86 meters) and the bar stayed up, even though I touched the crossbar slightly.
I was still in the competition and eligible to jump at the next bar height, but I was emotionally drained and starting to feel less strong. Also, for some unknown reason to me, the next height was 6 inches higher than the previous. I felt the possibility of injury was greater than the possibility of making that bar so I withdrew from the competition. I made seven competition vaults, two of them world records.
Needless to say, that was one of the most exciting experiences of my masters vaulting career.
I must acknowledge the support behind this success. I appreciate the years of observations, suggestions and coaching from Dan West, Mark Vanderville and Dan Umenhofer, who coach at Raising the Bar Pole Vault Club in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. Dan W., Mark and Dan U. were alongside the runway providing feedback and moral support. I also appreciate the great bunch of college vaulters from Lane Community College, coached by Dan West, who cheered me on after they completed their own competitions.