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Holliday hits her mark at Pan-Am Games

Penryn native takes bronze medal in Mexico
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Becky Holliday has basked in the national spotlight several times throughout her pole vaulting career. The Penryn native got a chance to show what she could do on an international stage last week, though she couldn’t stick around to soak in the glory of the medal podium. Holliday vaulted to a bronze medal at the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico to add another major highlight to her resume. She cleared 4.3 meters (14 feet, 1.25 inches), well off her career best height of 4.7. Her flight back to the United States did not allow the 31-year-old to attend the medal ceremony the next day. “I went into the competition to medal, and I did,” Holliday said. “It was definitely satisfying. As an athlete, you always want to do better performance-wise, but I think luck was on my side. It’s the first time at a world-level competition that I’ve medalled.” The breakthrough at the Pan-Am Games was an encouraging sign for Holliday, who broke onto the pole vault scene at the University of Oregon. She won the NCAA title in 2003 before embarking on her professional career, where she’s seen modest success. Holliday is hoping to reach the pinnacle of her career in three years in London, which would see her following in the footsteps of fellow foothills native Stacy Dragila, who won the first Olympic gold medal in the women’s pole vault in 2010. “I think I have a couple more years in me,” Holliday said. “I’ve talked with Stacy Dragila a lot and she alwasy says her best years were from age 30 to 33. I just turned 31 and I feel like I’m going into my prime. London is my big shot.” Like Dragila, Holliday was late to the pole vaulting game, but caught on quickly. In high school she moved from Penryn to Reno, to focus on her gymnastics career. The track and field coach at her high school suggested she try the pole vault. “He told me the practice was only two hours and I was sold,” Holliday said. “In gymnastics I would practice for five or six hours a day.” Holliday competed at Clackamas Community College in Oregon before going on to star with the Ducks. She’s been one of the top American vaulters for the past decade with three top-three finishes at the U.S. Outdoor Championships. Holliday caught a break before the Pan-Am Games when two U.S. qualifiers pulled out with injuries. “I didn’t have the best nationals, but I’ve been healthy and strong all year,” she said. “I got lucky. Any opportunity to go to a meet like this, you always want to take advantage of it.” Holliday still has many friends and family members in the Auburn area and she said eventually she would like to return to the foothills. Holliday plans on becoming a firefighter when her vaulting days are through. Holliday lives and trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista as she has for the past three years. She said the training center has helped her carve out a living in the sport, along with some coaching on the side. “I don’t make the big bucks,” Holliday said. “I make money at competitions. It’s frustrating to go to a meet to make money, but I do have bills. I go over to Europe and make some money there. It’s not a lot, but you can come home with a couple thousand dollars and you can get by.”