Aug. 9, 2005
HELSINKI, Finland - Reigning U.S. pole vault champion Brad Walker cleared just 17 feet 10 ¼ inches Tuesday, but it was enough to earn the Spokane native and 2004 UW alum one of 12 spots in Thursday's final at the 2005 IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Helsinki.
An equipment malfunction on one of the two pits in use at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium caused a one-hour delay, during which a light wind grew to a significant gale. When competition resumed, only one of the vaulters on the pit in question managed to clear the subsequent height of 18-4 ½, allowing all of those who had made first-attempt clearances at 17-10 ¼ to earn top-12 places and berths in Thursday's final.
"It was a hard day to jump. The conditions all day were pretty rough," Walker said Tuesday. "It's a low height that got into the finals. I'm disappointed that I didn't clear [18-4 ½], but I'm glad I'm in the finals."
Not among those to qualify for the final was 2004 Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson, who was forced to scratch when a recent leg injury proved not to have healed by Tuesday morning. The third-place finisher at the 2005 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Stevenson was part of a highly-touted U.S. men's vault unit that includes 2005 U.S. champion Walker and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Nick Hysong, runner-up to Walker at June's national championships.
Both Walker and Stevenson are ranked among the top-five vaulters in the world by the IAAF, while Walker's season-best of 19-4 ¼ is the second-best in the world this year, and equals the 10th-best ever by an American men's vaulter.
Walker won a pair of NCAA indoor titles during his four-year career at Washington, which concluded in 2004. A 2000 graduate of Spokane's University High, Walker was named MONDO's West District Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2003, captured four-career All-America honors and won two Pac-10 pole vault titles.
For complete results from this week's IAAF World Track and Field Championships, visit www.iaaf.org.