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Vashti Cunningham’s Olympic resume belongs in no one’s shadow


There’s a weight of expectation that comes as being the kid of a well-known athlete. Years of questions, questioning in the event you’ll comply with of their athletic prowess, and as a rule we’ve seen promise crushed below this strain. That didn’t occur to Vashti Cunningham, who now enters the Tokyo Video games with an out of doors likelihood of profitable gold, however with inherited DNA that tells her to disregard the chances.

Cunningham is the daughter of former Eagles legend Randall Cunningham, however that’s the place the comparisons will finish. It’s a enjoyable foot notice, a curiosity, however Vashti is much better outlined by her personal athletic prowess, reasonably than something her father did. Nevertheless, there’s unmistakable athletic means inherited not solely from her quarterback father, however her mom Felicity de Jager Cunningham, who was a ballerina on the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

A touted athlete by means of highschool. Cunningham shortly confirmed an unimaginable means within the excessive bounce. Debuting nationally in 2015, Vashti set the highschool report with a 1.94 meter bounce, and adopted that up later within the yr with gold on the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. It was turning into shortly obvious that an amazing excessive jumper was coming into her personal, with future Olympic potential.

That potential got here before anybody, together with Vashti was prepared for. Changing into one of many youngest monitor and subject athletes ever to compete for the USA in Rio, the second appeared too massive for her. Cunningham had one of the best bounce of the yr in Portland, and the stage was set for her — however the second proved to be an excessive amount of. Crushed with a thirteenth place end, Cunningham knew she may accomplish that a lot better, however proving it will want to attend for an additional yr.

Bouncing again, Cunningham dominated the U.S. scene in each indoor and outside monitor and subject. She gained gold in 2017 twice, however nonetheless did not make a mark internationally. Presumably a holdover from her Olympic disappointment, it was clear Vashti nonetheless wasn’t herself.

Issues took a flip in 2018. Cunningham was nonetheless dominating in the USA, however began to again it up with extra success abroad. She gained silver on the World Indoor Championships in 2018, and bronze on the World Championships in 2019.

Sadly the delay to the video games meant we by no means obtained to see her full comeback to glory. It will want to attend a yr, however the wait has been value it. On the U.S. Olympic Trials she completed first, and now enters Tokyo as one of many favorites to medal — however with a considerable rival to finest.

Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene is taken into account such a lock for gold in Tokyo that the chances being provided are even. No person is a greater excessive jumper on the earth within the ladies’s competitors than Lasitskene, whose private finest is a full 10 cm greater than Cunningham’s. That stated, you possibly can by no means depend out anybody in relation to the Olympics. Simply as Vashti confirmed us in 2016 there are myriad causes an athlete can battle in relation to video games. Now, with the whole nation behind her, Vashti Cunningham is able to shock the world as being a lot greater than “Randall Cunningham’s daughter.”

Methods to watch Vashti Cunningham in Tokyo

  • Ladies’s excessive bounce qualifiers: Wednesday, August 4 at 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Ladies’s excessive bounce finals: Saturday, August 7 at 5:35 a.m. ET


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