Kaitlyn Sparks - View From Above
“See, our sport’s a little different. We expect to fall; and not in some metaphorical way. We literally fall. And if we do our job right, we get to fall for longer. Because falling can be so much fun. It’s when we fall that we can appreciate how high we’ve climbed. We can feel our strength. And for those fractions of a second we celebrate and we’re proud because we’ve gotten faster and we’ve gotten stronger. And now, we get to fall for a fraction longer. And when we’re done falling, we get up, and we fall some more.”

Pole vaulting, a sport many of us don’t know or don’t know what goes into it… but it is an event many of us watch and applaud at meetings, for it is a beautiful event, if not the most beautiful!

“A lot of people like to say that pole vault is a combination of athletics and gymnastics. It’s basically like high jump except you use a pole to get over the cross bar. To do pole vault, you need to be functionally strong, fast and mentally tough, especially mentally tough. You can be in great shape but if your head is not in the right place on the day of a competition, you will not do well. Pole vault is also the most technically complicated field event there is. For example, each pole has a different weight, length and flex that influences your jumps. You need to understand this as well as the physics principals behind the sport in order to just select the right pole. This is without even thinking about the ‘during the vault technique’ which takes years to master”.

These are the words of u/17 South African Pole vaulter Kaitlyn Sparks. She is turning 17 in September and is already top 30 in vaulting on the countries all time lists and she is aiming to top that list, ” I’m planning on going above and beyond 4m to set new standards for pole vault in South Africa.” Her current pb is 3.80 which she jumped at SA Seniors as well as SA Open this year. She came second at Senior SA’s with that height and qualified for the African Senior champs is Morocco and also broke het Boland Youth record. She has trained with JP van As at Stellenbosch since 2011 and now he is more like a second father to her. “His passion and dedication to the sport is inspiring and without his help and guidance I would definitely not be where I am now.  I am inspired by my coach; by his attitude and positive outlook as well as just the type of person he is. I am also inspired by Renaud Lavillenie because after experiencing so many setbacks including a broken hand in 2011 and the incident that occurred at the 2013 European Indoor Champs, he persevered and now holds the world record of 6,16m”

“Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.”

” I recently decided to stop playing hockey after 9 years to concentrate more on my pole vault. It was a sad decision but one that was necessary. With regards to other athletics events, I enjoy all jumping events and the short distance sprints and hurdles, but I take part in these events solely for enjoyment”, and besides from athletics, where does she see herself going? “I have always been interested in biology and the living world so a career in either medicine or veterinary sciences would be amazing. I would love to be a surgeon.”

“I want to revive pole vault in South Africa. At one point SA had 2 guys over 5,90m that were competing with and beating the best vaulters from around the world and I would love to bring that standard back. There is so much talent in this country but nobody takes the sport seriously. I plan to change that. This year, my goal is to get to the Nanjing Youth Olympics in August but because there doesn’t seem to be a pole vault competition at the qualifier in Botswana, that has become a bit of a problem. Personally, I would love to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics in 2 years’ time. Obviously, I have a ton of work to do before then but I’m determined to do my best to get there. To go to the Commonwealth Games in 4 years’ time is another dream of mine.” Kaitlyn we will be keeping a close eye on you and hoping and praying with you to revive the pole vault in SA, this only will fuel our movement to BRING TRACK BACK!

EC Media Manager – Adriaan Aldridge