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The Conning Tower
Keith Conning
Vacaville, California
California Track and Running News

Table of Contents
Stevenson -- Dues paid and set for greater heights

Toby Stevenson (Stanford 2000)

World Outdoor Lists Pole Vault 2004

Stevenson, Toby

Slain GI was top runner

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Stevenson - Dues paid and set for greater heights

Thursday 6 January 2005

Toby Stevenson called it the turning point of his Pole Vault career when the American scaled 6.00m in the Modesto Relays on a sunny California afternoon on 8 May 2004.

Not only was it the world's best jump in three years and put Stevenson among an elite group of nine athletes to reach the magical 6.00m barrier outdoors. He set three career bests - 5.75 equalled PB (had jumped 5.81 indoors, 31 Jan); 5.85; 5.91 - en route to his new personal best of 6.00m. "It was unexpected but not unrealistic," Stevenson said. "I was firing on all cylinders and once I hit it at Modesto, it definitely changed a lot of my plans. I was rolling on all the confidence."

Stevenson followed the Modesto competition with a runner-up finish in the U.S. Olympic Trials, and by taking the Olympic silver medal in the Athens behind his compatriot Tim Mack.

"As big as it was at Modesto, I started the season like every one with certain indications and planning on having a really good season."

Retirement put on hold

At the start of 2004, Stevenson, 28, contemplated retirement after the Athens Olympics but those plans are now on hold. "It would have been dumb. I am not hanging it up yet. I still think I can jump higher."

Stevenson will compete indoors and a full schedule outdoors in 2005 in preparation for the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki in August. He will open the indoor season at the pole vault summit in Reno on Jan. 21 and will vault at the Millrose Games in New York in February. Stevenson will likely open the outdoor season at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in April.

He doesn't like to talk about heights but he didn't rule out challenging the

American record of 6.03 set by Jeff Hartwig in 2000 and Sergey Bubka's 1994 World record of 6.14 set in the altitude of Sestriere under optimal conditions.

"Anybody can jump 6m," Stevenson said. "One of my goals is to jump right in a meet. I've put the bar super high in practice and I've seen 6.20 but I don't ever talk about indicators. I can tell you I jumped 30 feet in practice but it doesn't mean a thing until I do it in a competition."

The Entertainer Stevenson is known much for his vaulting accolades as his trademark black roller hockey helmet and energetic celebrations. His Web Site greets visitors with "WHAT'S UP, PEOPLE!!!! In block letters, is a crowd favourite for his spontaneous dances.

One of Stevenson's favourite stunts is to ride the pole around the mat like a stick horse or throwing his bar in the air and pretending to shoot it down with a rifle. At the 2004 Olympic Trials, Stevenson threw his helmet to the mat and beat his chest like Tarzan. In Athens, he did a "shimmy-shake" with his hands after an early clearance and then played the his pole like an electric guitar after his silver medal vault.

"A lot of it is reactionary," Stevenson said. "I am having a great time. I want to make the pole vault fun and to interest fans in the pole vault. People love a personality and I want to help the sport with high energy."

Stevenson began wearing a hockey helmet as a safety precaution as a high school senior at Permian High in Texas in 1995 where he was the top-ranked age-18 vaulter that year. Stevenson was given the nickname "Crash" for his helmet by former American high jumper and television commentator Dwight Stones after he won the 1998 NCAA outdoor pole vault title at Stanford.

Self-coached Stevenson was coached in high school by his father Eddy, a biomechanics professor, but has been self-coached ever since. "In terms of just the pole vault, it's been me and a video camera. I don't trust anybody else. I have a lot of experience and study the sport. The Pole Vault is a lot like religion and politics, everybody has an opinion on what is right. I am the only one who knows what's best for me."

He currently trains in Southern California at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista with longtime friend Kurt Hanna. Todd Henson assists Stevenson with his strength and speed training, while Stevenson's girlfriend Kellie Suttle, the 2001 World Indoor silver medallist, offers occasional input.

Stevenson also credits Edrick Floreal, a 1988 and 1992 Canadian Olympian in the Triple Jump, who assisted in his workouts while attending Stanford where he graduated with an Economics degree in 2000. "(Floreal) has been a huge part of my success and so has the input from my father."

Paying his dues Stevenson had a rocky start to his professional career after a collegiate career at Stanford. There, Stevenson was a six-time All-American and helped Stanford to its first outdoor national title in 66 years with his runner-up finish in the 2000 NCAA meet.

In 2001, Stevenson broke his left ankle on his takeoff leg in practice during his first year as a post-collegian. In 2002, Stevenson was sidelined for more than a month from a punctured lung suffered from a fall in Oslo during his first international competition at the Bislett Games.

In 2003, Stevenson competed for much of the season without a sponsor wearing a black singlet with the word "Uniform" on it. "It was kind of a lean time. I am kind of a loner and wanted to do my own thing for a joke."

Stevenson's persistence started to pay off later in 2003 when he finished fourth in the U.S. Championships and won the Pan- American Games gold medal. "It's been a lot of hard work. I paid plenty of dues and working my way through the system."


[Conning: Toby Stevenson (Stanford 2000).]

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Event: Pole Vault

Height: 6-1

Weight: 175

PR: 6.00m/19-8.25 (2004)

Born: November 19, 1976 in Odessa, Texas

Current Residence: Chula Vista, Calif.

High School: Permian (TX) HS '96

College: Stanford University '00

Coach: Self

Agent: Karen Locke

Club: Nike

Career Highlights: 2004 Olympic silver medalist; 2004 Olympic trials runner-up: 2004 USA Indoor champion; 2003 Pan Am gold medalist; 1998 NCAA champion; 2000 NCAA runner-up; 2000 Pac-10 Outdoor champion

Stevenson enjoyed a banner year in 2004 with his runner-up finish at the Olympic Trials and a silver medal winning performance at the Olympic Games in Athens. A six-time All- American and the 1998 NCAA pole vault champion, Stevenson recently moved to the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., after two years on the coaching staff at Stanford University, his alma mater. While on the Stanford staff, Stevenson worked with the pole vaulters and multi-event performers. During his senior season in 2000, Stevenson captured the Pac-10 title in the pole vault, and gained All- America honors outdoors for a third time when he finished second at the NCAA Championships at Duke University. His eight points helped lead the Cardinal to the NCAA title, Stanford's first outdoor track & field title in 66 years. Stevenson set the school record in 2000 in the pole vault with a leap of 18- 9.25, which is the Pac-10 all-time record. In 1998, Stevenson captured the NCAA Outdoor pole vault title, Stanford's first pole vault champion at the NCAA's since Ward Clemens in 1929. Stevenson, who gained All-America honors three times indoors, graduated with a BA degree in Economics in 2000...Stevenson also was a star in high school. The top-ranked 18-year-old pole vaulter in the world in 1995, Stevenson also was the 1995 Texas State Champion...he placed third at the state meet in 1994...he set 24 school records and was unbeaten during his senior season at Permian High School...A three-time district champion and two-time regional champion, Stevenson cleared more than 16 feet in every meet his senior season, with a personal best of 17 feet...enjoys surfing and music.

2004: Olympic Games silver medalist (5.90m/19-4.25)...2nd at Olympic trials in the pole vault (5.85m/19-2.25)...USA Indoor pole vault champion (5.80m/19-0.25)...5.55m/18-2.5 in qualifying round of World Indoors (dnq)... 1st at Modesto (6.00m/19-8.25 PR)... 4th at Nike Prefontaine Classic (5.80m/19-.25)...1st at Verizon Millrose Games (5.70m/18-8.25)...1st at Seattle (5.81m/19-0.75)... 1st at Drake Relays (5.71m/18-8.75)... 1st at Phoenix (5.94m/19- 5.75)...1st at Payton Jordan US Open (5.85m/19-2.25).

2003: Pan Am Games gold medalist (17-10.5)...4th at USA Outdoors (5.65m/18-6.50)...1st at Stanford (5.75m/18-10.50)...1st at Fresno (5.67m/18-7.25)...3rd at Bislett Games (5.70m/18-8.50)...5th at Madrid (5.73m/18-9.5)...2nd at Mt. SAC (5.70m/18-8.25)...3rd at Oslo (5.70m/18-8.25) of 5.75m/18-10.50...ranked #4 in U.S by T&FN.

2002: 4th at USA Indoors (5.52m/18-1.50)...4th at USA Outdoors (5.74m/18-10PR)...1st at Stanford (5.71m/18-8.75)...1st at Fresno (5.61m/18-4.75)...2nd at Mt. SAC (5.61m/18-4.75)...2nd at Nike Prefontaine (5.74m/18-10)...ranked #5 in U.S by T& of 5.74m/18-10.

2001: Best of 5.40m/17-8.5.

2000: 1st at Pac-10 Outdoors...2nd at NCAA at U.S. Olympic Trials...ranked #9 in U.S. by T& of 5.72m/18- 9.25.

1999: 2nd at Pac-10 Outdoors...2nd at NCAA of 5.55m/18-2.5.

1998: NCAA Outdoor champion...4th at Pac-10 of 18- 2.5.


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World Outdoor Lists Pole Vault 2004

WR 6.14 Sergey Bubka UKR Sestriere, 31 07 1994

Mark Wind Athlete Nat Birth Pos Venue Date

6.01 Timothy Mack USA 15 09 1972 1 Monaco 18 09 2004

6.00 Toby Stevenson USA 19 11 1976 1 Modesto, CA 08 05 2004

5.95 Timothy Mack 1 Athina 27 08 2004

5.94 Toby Stevenson 1 Phoenix, AZ 14 05 2004

5.90 Timothy Mack 1 Jonesboro, AR 27 06 2004

5.90 Timothy Mack 1 Sacramento, CA 11 07 2004

5.90 Toby Stevenson 2 Athina 27 08 2004

5.86 Jeff Hartwig USA 25 09 1967 1 Jonesboro, AR 04 07 2004

5.85 Toby Stevenson 1 Palo Alto, CA 31 05 2004

5.85 Timothy Mack 1 Knoxville, TN 25 06 2004

5.85 Aleksandr Averbukh ISR 01 10 1974 1 Kuortane 27 06 2004

5.85 Toby Stevenson 2 Sacramento, CA 11 07 2004

5.85 Timothy Mack 1 Zurich 06 08 2004

5.85 Giuseppe Gibilisco ITA 05 01 1979 3 Athina 27 08 2004


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Stevenson, Toby

Did You Know?

* In addition to capturing the USA Indoor championship in 2004, also recorded the world's best mark in three years when he cleared 6 meters (19' 81/4") at the Modesto Relays in May (6 meters would have won gold at every previous Olympics)

* In 2000, his second-place performance helped Stanford to its first outdoor national track title in 66 years; was NCAA Outdoor runner-up and won Pac-10 Outdoors; competed in Olympic Trials

* His victory at the 1998 NCAA Championships was Stanford's first NCAA pole vault title since 1929

* After graduating from Stanford in 2000 with a degree in economics, worked with pole vaulters and multi-event athletes for two years as part of the school's coaching staff

* Currently resides at ARCO Olympic Training Center, where he coaches himself and spends leisure time surfing

* Was a standout during his pre-college career in Texas, setting 24 Permian High School records, taking three district championships, and winning the state title in 1995, when he was also the top-ranked 18-year-old pole vaulter in the world

It's Every Day

Stevenson's trademarks in competition are a black helmet (which he started wearing in high school to reassure his parents) and wild, crowd-pleasing celebrations after clearing the bar. Although at times meet officials have encouraged Stevenson to tone down his unpredictable antics, which have ranged from imitating Tarzan to riding his pole like a hobby horse, spectators have come to expect his good-natured theatrics. As Stevenson explains, "It's a way to have fun, relieve some stress, and get the crowd involved - because I love the crowd so much in pole vault."


On the likelihood of breaking Sergey Bubka's world record of 20'2", which has held for a full decade:

"I think the world record is possible. . . . I give him due respect, but I jumped in a meet in Russia and he said he's looking for us to break his record. I think people can jump higher."

--San Diego Union-Tribune, July 12, 2004

Height: 6'1"

Born: 19-Nov-76

Hometown: Odessa, Texas

Resides: Chula Vista, Calif.

Sport: Track & Field

Event: Pole Vault

United States Olympic Committee

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Slain GI was top runner

(Jeremy) Wright, the Indiana 3,200-meter champion in 1992 at Southwestern High School, was a two-time all-America in cross country at Wabash College. He was also a three- time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team. He graduated with honors from Wabash in 1996 with a major in chemistry.,1413,36~53~2637334,00.html

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