Going for the London Games
It won't be that long. In just over a month, fans around the world will be captivated by stories of athletes at the London Olympics. Significant chapters in many of those stories will be written this weekend at the US Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
The story for Mary Saxer began at Lancaster High School in 2003. Under the suggestion of Rick Suhr, she picked up a pole for the first time. The results were explosive. By the time she graduated, Saxer held the national high school record at 14'2''. She earned a scholarship to Notre Dame, and went on to win All-American honors twice, along with three Big East titles. Now Saxer's sights are set on a lifetime dream, the United States Olympic Team.
"I feel awesome. I feel in the best shape of my life." Saxer said by phone from Oregon. "There's definitely been some ups and downs all year, and some of my results maybe weren't the best. But I feel like I am in really good position going into this meet."
It certainly has been an up and down year. Saxer began by setting a career high with a 15'2'' jump in February's Indoor US Nationals. But production halted in the middle of May, when a trip to Brazil yielded no successful jumps. Part of the reason was a different pole, which required an adjustment. Saxer believes that will give her the best chance to clear 15 feet this weekend, which she expects will make the team.
"When you get in a meet like the trials, everyone's on and ready to go. I think it's really hard to predict," Saxer said. She's cleared the 15 foot mark twice in her career, which has her ranked fourth heading into the trails. Three vaulters will be going to London.
"I expect her to make it," said US National Team coach Brian Yokoyama, who's been monitoring Saxer's progress for years. Yokoyama told YNN that he thinks she is one of the nation's top three.
Saxer arrived in Oregon on Tuesday, along with her fiance Justin Sibears and coach Danny Wilkerson. Her parents and grandparents were scheduled to meet them Thursday. Saxer noted that her supporters are often the ones who get the most nervous.
"My mom will talk to my fiance and say, 'Oh my gosh, I don't want her to nervous or stressed out or anything.' She'll be one way with him, and when she talks to me, she's all calm and puting on a front. It's a very mom thing to do. . .I'm nervous, but a healthy amount. I'm just anxious to get out there and do my thing. Once I get out there, I know how to pole vault. I know what to do, and it's in my control."
Be sure to tune into YNN and YNN.com on Thursday to watch a complete preview of the area's pole vaulting hopefuls. Then tune in again following Friday's preliminary round and Sunday's final for complete coverage.
Photo is courtesy of MarySaxer.com