Excerpt: “Stuczynski was only days away from leaving for the United States Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore., where she hopes to continue a remarkable ascent in this event. It was only four years ago that her coach watched her in a basketball game and persuaded her to pick up a pole for the first time.
Now, at 26, Stuczynski holds the American record, clearing 16 feet ¾ inches at the Adidas Track Classic in May. Only one woman in the world has vaulted higher: Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, at 16-5 1/4. The qualifying round at the United States trials is Wednesday, with the finals next Sunday afternoon.
“Going into this thing she had so much stacked against her,” Stuczynski’s coach, Rick Suhr, said. “She’s not a gymnast. She has no gymnastics background. She has an unproven coach. She doesn’t come from a pole-vault area.”