18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, February 26, 2012

USA Indoor 2012

To start out I’ll tell you the results, then I’ll give you the excuses, followed by the truth of it, and what should be taken away.

The results: Today I competed at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque New Mexico. I finished the competition in 6th place with a final height cleared of 17’8.5”. This mediocre result all its own does not tell a good story, and does not do justice to what took place.

The excuses: Feeling a cold coming on in the past few days I took every precaution available to me to hold it at bay. Last night a sinus headache, a plugged nose and cough were polite enough to invite themselves into my body and keep me up until about 4am. Waking up at 9am today, feeling about the same, I was angry and grouchy about the fact that I had to deal with it, and seeing as almost anything that has to do with cold medicine is a banned substance I was afraid to take anything for aid in the matter.
A strange landing in a stiff pit jammed my upper back, handed me a direct cross bar swat to the patella tendon and cracked my neck pretty good during my first attempt at 5.48m (18’, I think it was actually 17’11 ¾”, but instead of typing that every time, I will just say 18’). Dizzy and rattled, I was unable to bounce back right away from the hiccup.

The truth: Once I warmed up today, despite a stuffy nose, I felt physically great and was able to redirect my mind into a state of confidence. Being sick and the late night did not affect me.
It took me 3 attempts to clear my opening height of 5.30m (17’4.5) but when I did, I did it with authority. At the next height of 5.40m (17’ 8.5”) I wish I had it on video, because from my view, the bar looked like it was at least a foot beneath me. The jump felt magnificent. Unfortunately, at 5.48 (18’), a strange take-off, that led to a near miss, landed me in the pit on my elbows leaving my head and neck plenty of room to snap backwards violently. The jump was a “blow through” which means the pole was too small. With pain and doubt creeping in I chose to remain on the same pole predicting that I would not have as much horse power on the next jump, and with possibly my largest mistake in the competition I did not fully complete my second attempt at that height. Now with one jump remaining I tried to stay calm and chose to keep everything the same. My composure came back and with it, power, I blew through again, and that’s that. The little spill did not really affect me physically and I was even able to mentally come around on jump number 3, so it is also an invalid excuse.

What to take away: In the future when I am in a similar situation where I get banged up a little and blow through, I know now that I need to suck it up and go to the next pole regardless. Today, too much reason and psychological internal debate got in the way of real courage, and it cost me. It’s a damn shame too, because for a moment I felt like I was at a whole new level of performance, and what better time to do it.
It will have to wait. The outdoor season is looking even brighter than before. I could walk away from today unhappy and discouraged, but I am having an opposite feeling. What I did right today, has only giving me more confidence in myself and my abilities. The prospect of much higher heights appears imminent. The mistakes I made are a valuable lesson for future competitions with as high and even higher stakes.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, we watched results real time over the web and were cheering you on. I would ask you to do one thing - in a few days when the excitement of the day wears off, please sit back and ponder this: you are an elite athlete, competing at a national championship. That's right a national championship - the top step and one big one closer to the ultimate competetion. Despite all your setbacks, other's doubts and all the challenges - you are competing at a national championship. Be proud, very proud of what you have accomplished and where you are headed. And look forward to the outdoor season with energy, joy and just a bit of cockiness. You've earned it. Well done, very well done.

    Best regards,