Penryn native secures spot in Olympics

By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Becky Holliday, a Penryn native, will travel to London to compete with the 2012 women's Olympic pole vaulting team.

Holliday, 32, participated in this year's Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., this week and landed a spot on the three-woman team with a vault of 14 feet, 11 inches.

She fell in just behind the top pole vault, which was secured by Jennifer Suhr, of New York, with a vault of 15 feet, 1 inch. Lacy Janson, of Virginia, will be the third member of the Olympic pole vault team.

After failing to make the Olympic team in 2004 and 2008, Holliday said on Thursday she was just getting over the nervousness she has dealt with all through the trials.

"It's the first step, so you can't really look toward the Olympics until you make this team. I'm just excited. Now it's about staying healthy and strong," she said.

Holliday lived in Penryn until the fourth grade when she moved to Auburn for a year. She then moved near Reno, where she started pole vaulting her junior year of high school. She would later get a full ride to the University of Oregon, where she fine tuned her technical pole vaulting skills.

At just 5 feet, 3 inches, Holliday had to become familiar with the technicalities of pole vaulting to keep up with her competitors, like Suhr, who stands at 6 feet, 1 inch.

"You want to be taller because it makes it easier, but with me I've always liked being shorter because it makes it harder and I like that challenge," Holliday said.

The conditions were not ideal in Eugene this week, as the preliminary round for women's pole vault was canceled. That decision was made by the competitors, though Holliday said she voted to go ahead with the original date last Friday.

"I actually kind of like crappy conditions," Holliday said. "It was tough. I'm the smallest vaulter out there, so wind is a big factor for me."

The delay did not deter Holliday's performance, as she will travel to London for the Aug. 4 women's pole vault. She will be traveling there with her boyfriend, who has also qualified for the Olympics for the first time as a flat-water kayaker.

Scott Roth, of Granite Bay, qualified for the final round of the men's pole vault with a vault of 17 feet, 8 inches. 

Bear River graduate Paul Litchfield, who also competed in the trials in 2008, fell short in the preliminary round of the men's pole vault.