Athletics-Morris ready to turn Olympic nightmare into gold at worlds

By Amy Tennery

EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) – American pole vaulter Sandi Morris has emerged from Olympic disaster with a new outlook on competition, ready to battle for gold as the World Athletics Championships kick off this week in Eugene, Oregon.

The two-times world silver medallist experienced an athlete’s worst nightmare at the Tokyo Games when her pole snapped as she was midair in a qualifying round attempt.

She was unable to continue in the competition due to injury, with her hopes of returning to the podium shattered after taking silver in Rio.

“Experiencing an injury at the Olympics was a life-changing moment for me because it made me realize, ‘Okay, I just experienced pretty much the worst thing that can happen to you in sport, but I’m ok’,” she told Reuters at a Puma House event Wednesday.

“That’s the key, continuing to get up and try again.”

Her resilience paid off in March, when she picked up her second indoor title in Belgrade, and she is undefeated this year through 11 meets.

With her family cheering her along with a home crowd, the 30-year-old said she believes she has a very strong chance at taking home the gold, after producing a world-leading 4.82 metres at the U.S. championships last month.

“As long as I know I performed the best that I could on that day, I’m going to be okay with it,” she said. “I say that out of experience: I got silver in Rio, I got silver in London 2017, I got silver in Doha 2019.”

Expected among her toughest challengers are compatriot and Olympic champion Katie Nageotte, with whom she trains.

The 31-year-old produced her best performance of 4.80 in February.

“I believe every dog will have its day if you keep fighting,” said Morris. “So that’s what I want to do: I want to keep fighting and maybe this dog will have her day.”

The world championships run through July 24 in Eugene, Oregon.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Eugene, Oregon; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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