18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Jump. That's right, I jumped.

On July 31st 2010, my left leg went numb, graciously handing me a "No Height" at what could have possibly been my final competition as a professional pole vaulter. On Saturday December 4th 2010 I stepped on the runway for the first time since that crushing day. After a chiropractic adjustment Friday to my upper back the wave of pain relief was inspiring. Changes in therapy and training over the past few weeks have led me to believe that my lower back is now healthy and strong enough to plant a vaulting pole once again. I put a cap on my jumps, 3 was to be the maximum, then the assessment of pain levels throughout the next 24 hours would be the dynamic that guides me to the following week. 3 jumps I took, from 10 steps on 15' poles. They weren't the prettiest, or highest, or inspiring, but it was me in the air once again. The results are in, no change in pain, no sleepless night, no numbness in the leg. A serious overpowering hunger for more? Check.
I know what your thinking, he's going to hurt himself again. You may be right, but if you think that's the case because I'm going to push myself to hard, to soon, then you are wrong. I've invested far to much time, energy, resources, and emotion to throw it all away for one hint of success. I'm going to continue to take my time, listen to my body, and remain on task. Because my health is still more important than my height in the air. Yes there is a degree of peril, but there is for every vaulter. Those of us who minimize it, carry on. I know my body better than any doctor, and I plan to take care of it. But without great risk, there cannot be great reward.


  1. Paul, I'm living vicariously through you. Don't know if you have heard or not, but I am no longer 100% ambulatory. Most days I can get around with a cane, some days not at all, and a few days just fine by myself. The diagnosis is damage to the S2 nerve root. Maybe it will improve, get worse, or stay the same. Nobody knows but the man upstairs. What I wanted to tell you is I completely support your decision to keep vaulting. Be smart. Take care of yourself. But don't let anyone else tell you what you can or can't accomplish. When the time is right to stop, you will know, and it will be your decision. Lying here in bed resting after my morning walk, I still wouldn't trade all my time on a pole for a healthy back.

    Best Wishes,
    M. Bartolina

  2. Congratulations Paul! I'm glad to hear you're jumping again. I trust you will always push your limits, but push them as smartly as possible.

    Citius, altius, fortius!


  3. Thanks guys. I'm being as careful as I can, and have a lot of good friends keeping a close eye on me to make sure I don't take it too far.