BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — When news broke that the NCAA track and field championships were canceled, and the 2020 Olympic games had been pushed back to 2021, Bloomington High product and current University of Kansas pole vaulter Zach Bradford was left in a state of numbness.
“Initial reaction was all of that hard work and hitting that Olympic standard early, its just kind of felt like it was shut down like there was no feeling, there was no actions towards it,” Bradford said. “I had no idea what to do.”
Bradford had an excellent sophomore year for the Jayhawks, setting the school record for pole vault clearing 19 feet and one quarter inch and resulting in an olympic standard vault. Bradford would have competed for a spot on the Olmypic team at the U.S. trials this June.
“Coming into this year, my goal was to just get to the trials,” Bradford said. “And then hitting that standard, becoming one of the top ten athletes in the U.S., that kind of increased the hopes of, well maybe this could actually happen, that Olympic team is not impossible. It’s definetly up for grabs.”
The three-time IHSA state pole vault champion now has an additional year to train for the U.S. trials before the Tokyo games next summer. He’s using that as motivation.
“I think a lot of these athletes are gonna see it as a positive. As one more year to train, one more year to stay healthy, to build a base,” Bradford said. “I think a lot of athletes are just going to restart their training and get prepared for that next year. That’s also got to push me to know that everyone else is getting a new year, it’s not just me.”
Zach’s Olympic dream may have to wait one more year, but he’s hoping it will be well worth the wait. He think he has a good chance at becoming an Olympian.
“The Olympics is something that everyone strives for, it’s something completely different,” Bradford added. “Making that team is definitely the dream goal of mine.”