How an Innocent Photograph Nearly Ended a Young Star’s Pole Vault Career


As a sportsperson, few things are as endearing as having people recognize your talent and efforts. Often, however, fame brings with it more trouble than you could ask for. In Allison Stokke’s case, she’d claim to fame thanks to her incredible talent as a pole vaulter. She would later find out that fame is nine parts unwanted attention and one part things that actually make the experience worthwhile. It got so bad that, at one point, she was going to quit the sport altogether. How could a single photograph make everything fly so uncontrollably south for such a talented individual, and how did she deal with it?

The athletic gene

Allison was born in a sporting family, at the helm of which was her older brother – David – a national level youth gymnast. It was only natural that she should follow in his footsteps. She would go on to try her hand at gymnastics for a while but later shifted her attention to pole vaulting. She herself hadn’t expected the sport to be as entertaining as it turned out to be, but she took to it like fish to water. It was only going to be a matter of time before the whole world literally knew her name.


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