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Olympic Pole Vault Champion Katie Nageotte On Leaving Her Comfort Zone And Trusting Her Gut To Win Gold

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“It takes a lot to get out of your comfort zone, especially in the pole vault. Because it is scary and because there is a fear element, you want to hold onto your comfort zone so badly…Changing things really is not easy. There were a lot of tears. I always bought in. My gut led me to Ashland. My gut sent me to Brad (Walker). It hasn’t been wrong yet. I knew that I was in the right place because of the way he described it. He made it so simple. I’m in control of what I’m doing so if I focus on X, Y and Z, the heights will come. He totally changed the mental game for me, which then allowed me to change the technical things. It took all of that time to make that happen. Especially in this generation, people want immediate gratification and results. I’m very much like that. I don’t like waiting for things. I’m really happy that I didn’t make the team in 2016 because I would not have done that. I would not have gone that far out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have let someone else challenge me that way. I’m grateful that I took the leap and my gut led me to where it is.”

Katie Nageotte is the Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault. She is one of three American women to take gold in the event at the Games. In this episode, there’s plenty of Ohio talk because if you’ve followed her on social media she’s been parading around the medal all over Cleveland. The Olmsted Falls native has thrown out the first pitch at the Indians game, given a pep talk at the Browns practice and been honored by state officials. We discuss her journey and success at Ashland University at the Division II level and what pushed her to keep going as a professional pole vaulter. As a pro, she finished 5th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016 which led her to make a change and team up with Brad Walker as her coach. Over the past five years, she saw major improvement under the 2007 world champion’s guidance. She made the 2018 World Indoor and 2019 World outdoor teams. A breakthrough in 2020 and 2021 suddenly made her the Olympic gold medal favorite. She discusses how that all happened and how she managed the pressure. At the 2020 Games, she missed on her first two tries at 4.5 meters so there was added pressure there. Then, she managed to turn it around. Listening to her recounting her experience in Tokyo is pretty thrilling so I hope you enjoy it.

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Photo by Kevin Morris/@kevmofoto


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