Wimborne Athletic Club

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Jack Snook breaks club pole vault record 17 August 2013

A proud dad reports.

Jack clears the bar in the city of Leuven, Belgium

Just over 12 months ago at the end of the last outdoor season, Jack set a new PB and club record in pole vault of 4.00m  in his first year as an under-20. Things were looking good for the winter and the indoor season, until one training session in October when he was unfortunate enough to break his ankle landing awkwardly from a jump. It was curtains for the indoor season, with estimates ranging from six to nine months before he could jump again - not a prospect to look forward to.

Many may have just decided to give up - but Jack is not one of many. It would be a long road to recovery, but he was determined to return to vaulting. With good initial support from the NHS physio after being discharged from the fracture clinic, he started the long journey back. Jack's rehabilitation was fully supported by his coach, Dave Pearson, who developed a programme of strength and conditioning which was adjusted according to how much Jack was allowed to do and what after-effects it had.

Jack finally started vaulting again in April this year, and, in a relatively short time, showed that his performances were not far off where he ended the previous year, finally equalling his 4.00m PB on 15 June at the SW Schools Championships. This surprised even his coach, as we were all expecting a much slower come back.

Training has been going well, but something wasn't quite working at competition time, until Saturday 16th August at the British Athletics Throws & Jumps Fest in Bedford. Jack entered the competition at 3.60m using his usual pole, clearing that height at the first attempt. He then moved to a pole which was sourced the previous weekend at the SW Intercounties fixture in Exeter. The first attempt at the next height, 3.80m, was a failure, but the next attempt was successful. Next up was 3.95m - a first time clearance. Then the big one - 4.05m, a new PB and club record. Remarkably, another first time clearance. Next up 4.15m - and another first time clearance. Both those heights were cleared well   could he do 4.25m? Well, sadly no, but oh so close with all three attempts.

Is there more to come?  Well, the short answer is yes...

The following Friday, Jack travelled with the South West team to Antwerp in Belgium for a competition (thanks to Sonya Ellis for organising the trip). Hours before travelling, he found out that his pole vault competition would not be taking place at the stadium in Antwerp, but in a market square in the town of Leuven about 28 miles away, and away from the rest of the team street vaulting would be a first for Jack!

Sheena and I had booked to travel independently to give Jack some support and we arrived at the competition venue shortly after Jack to find that it had been raining and the runway was quite wet as a result. Fortunately, it had now stopped raining and things were drying out throughout the warm up which is more than can be said for a few spectators from a nearby bar!

It was competition time Jack was nervous. He hadn't vaulted in these type of circumstances before plenty of loud music and spectators who were keen to watch the spectacle.

First jump for him was a clearance at 3.82m. Next came another first time clearance at 3.97m. The pole was beginning to feel soft, so he transferred on to a bigger one for the next height. A first failure at 4.12m was followed by a successful clearance at the next attempt. Now the bar was moved up another 15cm to 4.27m this would be a new PB and club record. Jack had moved up a hand grip on the pole and took his first attempt he tickled the bar on the way over, but it stayed up a first time clearance for a new lifetime best!

Jack failed at the next height a dizzy 4.42m but he was not far off clearing that as well.

We don't know if this performance will be ratified by the Power of 10, hopefully it will, but with three more pole vault competitions before the end of this summer season, surely there must be a chance of going even higher. Watch this space

Well done Jack, and special thanks to Dave for his time, patience and dedication - hard work by all concerned, well rewarded.

Steve Snook


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