EDMONTON – In January at the Pole Vault Summit open event, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps pole vaulter Michael Wagenveld (CMC) met world champion Shawn Barber, his pole-vaulting role model. Little did Wagenveld know that he would be competing alongside Barber several months later in Edmonton at the Canadian Championships and Olympic Trials, for the right to represent Canada in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Wagenveld, a dual citizen in Canada and the United States, competed at the Olympic Trials on June 8-9 and placed fifth out of 12 competitors in the Senior Division. He cleared 4.85m on his second attempt for his best vault of the weekend. The top-2 competitors qualified for the Canadian Olympic Team.
"I am looking forward to jumping with Shawn Barber. He has always been a role model for me and he is really good for such a young jumper (21)," Wagenveld said before the trials began. "I am excited to represent my school [Claremont McKenna College], and as a dual citizen represent Canada and the U.S."
His dream of representing Canada at the Olympic trials became a reality early in the 2016 season when he hit the qualifying mark (16-1, 4.80). He is currently the CMS record holder in the event (16-5, 5.00) and is the only Stag to have represented Canada in the Olympic Trials.
"For me it is a huge honor to coach Michael," CMS track & field interim head coach Glenn Stewart said. "When I recruited him, I knew it [the Olympic Trials] was a possibility, but now it is a reality. It is the first time I have coached an athlete at the Olympic Trials."
Heading into the trials, Wagenveld's qualifying mark ranked sixth out of 12 competitors in the Senior Division, with Barber leading the pack.
"It's been a rapid journey from being a pretty good high school and college pole vaulter to the Olympic Trials, so it is very exciting for me to qualify for the trials," Wagenveld said. "This year is really to get me used to competing at a big event in front of big crowds and handling my nerves."
Wagenveld's ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The trip to Edmonton has had an added bonus for the CMS program; exposure for CMS outside of the United States. Wagenveld is the lone CMS track & field athlete competing at Olympic Trials in 2016, but Coach Stewart hopes this experience opens the door for other Stags and Athenas in the years to come.
By Chris Watts
Director of Athletics Communication
Claremont McKenna College
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