By Jim Caple | Jul 1, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — Just 18 years old, Vashti Cunningham is the reigning world indoor high jump champion. Trying to qualify for her first Olympics in the opening round of the U.S. track and field trials Friday afternoon, she was so focused on her jumps that she did not distract herself by talking to competitors inside the Hayward Field track.
Not that there wasn’t someone competing there alongside Cunningham who could provide strong advice for her future career.
Amy Acuff first competed at the track trials at age 16 in 1992 before the Barcelona Games. She did not qualify at those trials, but she made the next five U.S. Olympic teams, competing in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London. Despite being a month shy of her 41st birthday, having two children and a number of health issues this year, she was fighting for her sixth Olympics in Rio.
Unfortunately, Acuff failed to advance to the high jump finals, missing her final three attempts at 1.84 meters (6 feet, one-half inch). With mixed emotions, she walked away from the high jump, and her career.
“I feel closure,” Acuff said. “I guess I felt like, ‘Oh well, I tried my best and that’s all you can hope for.’ I am officially retired from track and field. I said that before, but it’s for real now.”
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