Monday, July 2, 2012

Olympic Trials Reflection

Just so you all know I don't want to do this, I don't want to talk about my week at the Olympic trials, because it hurts.  It hurts really bad.  But I know that I need to, I owe it to all of you to continue the journey.  Just like the victories are a vital part of any story so is the heartbreak.  And it wouldn't be fair for me to pretend like everything will always go the way you want it to, even when you work so hard at something sometimes it just doesn't go in your favor.  I've said it before and I'll say it again the sport of pole vaulting is cruel, it's cruel to everyone, so if you haven't experienced its cold hand slapping you across the face just wait, you'll get yours.  And I think thats why we love it so much, because the heartache makes the victory that much sweeter.  So maybe we should relish in the defeat, just because we know it's going to push us that much harder and make our victory so much sweeter.  I think as soon as I get home I will put something up on the wall to remind me of the 2012 Olympic trials because I don't want to forget the bitter taste I have in my mouth right now.  The part im trying to not think about is how long I have to wait to get my revenge.  

Going into the Trials I believed that if i could make 5.72m/18'9" I would be top 3 and make the team.  My plan all along was to be in the competition when the bar went up to 5.72m and give myself a chance to make the team.  Warmups went better than they have been going for me in the past month or so, I was confident in my run, and knew that once the bar went up I could get in the groove.  I wanted to start at 5.50m/18' but i wasnt on the pole I wanted to be on to feel confident in doing that so I opted to start at 5.40m/17'9".  The wind was swirling around the majority of the comp and when I stepped on the runway it was blowing in my face.  I muscled through the wind and made the bar first attempt, I was feeling good after that and knew that since i was going up a pole I could pass the next bar.  When the bar went up to 5.60m/18'4" I think there were still 8 or 9 people still in the competion.  My first attempt was a good jump but I barely hit the bar on the way up, I went up a pole and did the same thing on my second.  I didnt want to go up to my next pole yet because it was a pole I had never jumped up and I knew if I upped my grip the pole would slow down a bit and give me more time to make the bar.  I really felt no fear in not making the bar, I believed in my decisions and knew that the numbers added up to making the bar.  I put a great jump together and made the bar on my last attempt!  Now I was pumped, I knew that by going up to my next pole, the biggest one in my bag, if i could put a jump together like the last one I would make the next couple of bars.  

I passed 5.67m/18'7" only Brad Walker made the bar which meant i was sitting in 5th place but if i made 5.72m/18'9" I would take the lead and be on my way to London.  I taped up my 5.20m/17'1" 12.3flex Pacer Carbon pole and was ready to go.  By now the wind had picked up and it had started to rain.  There were 2 of us jumping at the bar so we had 2 minutes to start our attempt.  I waited about the whole 2 min waiting for the wind to switch direction or at least die down.  I started my first attempt and the wind was straight in my face, now on the size pole i was on if your not running your fastest the chance for injury is pretty high, I knew the wind was holding me back so I dropped the pole and ran onto the mat.  Second attempt the wind wasnt as strong i took the jump up but got a little stood up meaning i didnt quite get the horizontal movement into the pit I needed and had to bail the jump.  This left me one attempt, I was praying that I could get a good wind.  The problem I had was that since I was on a new pole with one jump remaining its hard to set the standards where you need them to be.  I left mine at 70cm meaning the bar was 70cm behind were we plant the pole.  The wind was a little better as I started my run but at the middle of my run it switched, I left the ground and gave it a shot, had plenty of height but came down on the bar.  

THat was it, the end of my pursuit for 2012, I think the worst part of it was that I knew I was deserved to be there, I was the best prepared but in pole vault sometimes it just doesnt matter.  

Im starting to look forward, its pretty easy to get down and think about just how close I was.  Im ready to get back on the runway and jump a personal best which I know is right around the corner.  I jumping down in St. Louis on Wednesday the 4th and then in Champaign, Illinois on Saturday at the Gill Athletics Field Fest.  

Thanks to everyone who supported me this year, thanks for buying a t-shirt, that helps so much.  Im going to keep on pursuing and some day soon Ill start looking forward to 2016 in Rio.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-


  1. All we ask is that you don't lose hope and keep on pursuing!!!! We enjoy your journey - going with you through the ups and downs, cheering and sighing along the way. We love having the excitement and anticipation in our lives. Thank you for taking us along for the ride!!

  2. Bless you, Mark. Thanks for sharing! - Debbie Livengood

  3. You are a hero to my son's and i. Keep aiming high, Little Brother!! Big meet's all the way!!

  4. So few people pursue their dreams. Even fewer stick with it past the first couple of hurdles. You can only fail if you give up.

    "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running."

  5. I love how you walk with integrity and keep raising the bar!

  6. We've been watching - praying - hoping with you and your family. This one wasn't to be, but watch out in 2016, for I feel you'll be the one to beat! Blessings. Sue (Libberton)Mansfield.

  7. "The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom will have to face success." John Wooden

    I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming. You are a testament to perseverance and determination. Bud, the testing grounds of this life never guarantee us we'll be successful in the future, but they do guarantee us we'll have to make a choice... a choice of whether to get back up or to stay down. You've chosen the a road less traveled...keep traveling, pursuing and flying higher!

    "Don't be afraid to fail. The greatest failure of all is failure to act when action is needed. Use the information that you've acquired in the past through the experiences you've had and act with self control... but act!" John Wooden

  8. Mark - I stumbled upon you while chasing after another Mark Hollis, the English musician and former lead of the band Talk Talk, on YouTube. Watched your feats of graceful pole vaulting and I was hooked. I hoped you'd make it to London (you earned it), but as you said, it can be a cruel sport. Thank you for sharing your stories. You are a gentleman and inspiration!