Hello again. I'm sitting in the Sydney airport waiting to board my flight to LA and then later on to Houston. I blogged to you more when I felt more stress and now maybe because of my concern for Nancy and her mom. I'm not overly worried about her because she's always been in excellent health and strong for 93 years old. I few years ago she got pneumonia and fully recovered in about three weeks. Most older people don't do that. Anyway, I can't call because there are no cell phones in the hospital and then I have a 14 hour flight. So fortunately I still have you guys. Thanks so much for that.
A couple of things I have been asked I wanted to answer for the group. First is the "Doping Control". Just to let everyone know, this was not a cosmetic scare tactic. ALL medalists have to pass through Doping Control on their way to receive their awards. As Warren Hill, an official (and vaulter) led us through he said, "unless one of you gets stopped for drug testing we should be to the podium in about five minutes". He hands in the results and they select you or not. If they do, everyone else in your group waits while you go through the procedures. I'm glad no one was chosen in our group because it had already been a marathon day, was starting to get dark and I had not even packed up my poles or bags so I could walk back to the hotel. So, YES, Doping Control was present and used.
The wind. All vaulters have their wind horror stories but this was the worst I have seen. Tom and I noticed that there would be a brief drop to about 10 mph for about 3-5 seconds that would be followed by a cross tail, to cross, to head cross, to direct head (like a clock) over the next 10 seconds while gaining speed at each angle. This only happened every 10-15 minutes so unless you got this when you had your one minute on the runway, then your best option was to wait for the 15-20 mph cross from the right as that was as good as it was going to get. Since I was jumping alone with five minutes between jumps I actually got the dead to cross progression twice. Now remember - dead is 10 mph.
Here's my two big wind stories. At Round Rock High School outside of Austin last November it was cold and very windy, mostly tail. As the day went on it quartered over your right shoulder a little. When I came in to do my run through, it came totally across in a huge gust and blew my pole so hard I missed the box and planted into the left wedge where the front buns meet the pit. The pole bent totally sideways and I got shot to the front corner of the right bun where I let go with one hand and dropped. After I regained my heart in my chest, or official, the great Briam Elmore told it I was up for my first meet jump. I made it on my first jump but you can imagine that this was in my mind as a possibility as I ran down the runway for my first jump in Sydney.
The other time was at Worlds in 1997 in South Africa. We had a 40 mph headwind and they wouldn't turn the pit around to the other end because the standards on that end were not bolted down so that would cause an unsafe environment. HUH?! Like running into a 40 mph is the "safer" alternative. Well that's what we did and it worked for me because I was coming off of a strained hamstring. I ended up getting the bronze medal whereas if we had gone the other way I may have pulled during warm up or gotten a much lower place because everyone could use a big pole but me.
I'm sure you guys have good stories too. Gotta run as we're about to board. All the best and thanks again! Bubba