Women’s pole vault kicks off this week as we head down the back stretch of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been huge fans of the sport for years, following such incredible vaulters like 2 time gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva and internet phenom Allison Stokke (contrary to popular belief, Stokke has never qualified or participated in an Olympic games). These women are just awesome to watch. They are fearless, ridiculously fit and impossibly graceful as they fly through the air in this incredibly dangerous sport.
Although men’s pole vault has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since the first Summer Games in 1896, women’s pole vault is a relative newcomer. Rio marks only the fifth Olympics to feature women’s pole vaulting. Since it’s inclusion in Sydney in 2000, the event has only been won by 2 countries, The United States and Russia. This year, with the controversy surrounding disqualified Russian vaulter Isinbayeva, the US is looking like a very strong contender to bring home the gold. Keep your eyes on returning gold medalist at the 2012 London Games Jenn Suhr, Sandi Morris and Arkansas student Lexi Weeks, as they aim to make America proud.
Qualification heats take place on Tuesday, August 16th at 8:45 am with the final on Friday, August 19th at 7:30 pm. To prepare you for the upcoming vault competition, we’ve put together an incredible collection of photos of the hottest women pole vaulters competing in Rio.
Alexis Weeks, a.k.a Lexi Week is a 19 year-old first time Olympian attending her sophomore year at the University of Arkansas. She won the NCAA Division I Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Lexi has an identical twin sister Tori, who is also a pole vaulter for Arkansas.
We don’t know much about Ukraine’s Maria Kylypko, except that she was born on November 10th, 1995, stands, 5’5″ and weighs in at 127lbs.
Ling Li is a 27 year-old pole vauter representing China in 2016 Rio Olympic Games. This is her 2nd Olympics. She finished 30th in the 2012 London Games. In 2016, Ling won the Asian Indoor Championships in Qatar with a personal best vault of 4.70 m.
23 year-old Swedish pole vaulter Michaela Meijer is making her Olympic debut in Rio. Her personal outdoor best is 4.55 m.
At only 18, the Rio Olympics are a first for Swiss pole vaulter Angelica Moser. Moser won gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and placed first at the 2015 European Junior Championships. Her personal best for outdoors is 4.41 m.
18 year-old Wilma Murto is considered to be one of the most promising athletes in Finland. She made her international debut at the young age of 16. Murto’s personal best is 4.71 m.
University of Miami alumn Alysha Newman is the 2nd ‘Canadian’ competing in the pole vault for Canada. She currently holds the Canadian women’s record with a personal best of 4.61 m.
Pole vaulter Marta Onofre is the current Portuguese record holder with a personal best of 4.51 m. indoors.
Robeilys Peinado is the third 18 year-old to make our list. She originally started competing as a gymnast, but switched to pole vaulting at 12 when she became too tall for the sport. She holds the national record for Venezuela with a personal best of 4.60 m.
California native and former UCLA Bruin Tori Pena is competing for Ireland at the 2016 Olympic games. She is eligible to compete for Ireland because her maternal grandmother was born in Derry. Pena’s personal best is 4.60 m.
Czech pole vaulter Jirina Ptacnikova is the daughter of Czech sprinter Frantisek Ptacnik. Jirina finished 6th at the 2012 London Games and is holds the national record for the Czech Republic with a personal best of 4.76 m.