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US Olympic Track and Field Trials 2012: High Risk, Reward in Men's Pole Vault

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IJune 28, 2012

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MARCH 08:  Derek Miles of USA competes in the Mens Pole Vault Qualification during the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Palau Lluis Puig on March 8, 2008 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The men's pole vault final at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials will be an eye-popping experience.

It's a strong field in the finals, and each athlete will improve just from the competition alone—and for as difficult as that appears, the ultimate reward is a great opportunity to win Olympic gold.

Here, the strategy during the men's pole vault final will be extremely vital. Not just making the expected height will be enough to make Team USA.

Strength and Depth of Competition

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MARCH 09:  Brad Walker of USA competes in the Mens Pole Vault Final during the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Palau Lluis Puig on March 9, 2008 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

In the finals field of the men's pole vault at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials, two former Olympians lead the way.

Brad Walker and Derek Miles both competed in Beijing, but unfortunately neither placed. Fast forward to now, however, and we see Walker having won bronze at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, with Miles as the 2011 U.S. outdoor champion.

Even more impressive, Walker holds the American record at 19 feet, 9 3/4 inches. Other solid contenders include Mark Hollis and Jeremy Scott. Hollis won the U.S. indoor title in 2011 and was third in 2012, whereas Scott was the 2011 U.S. outdoor runner-up.

All four have an excellent amount of experience and recent success to put on a show in the finals. With seven other competitors, the intensity of the men's pole vault will only increase as it progresses.

As the Finals Progress...

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 29:  Jeremy Scott of the United States competes in the men's pole vault final uring day three of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Daegu Stadium on August 29, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty
Ian Walton/Getty Images

This will be the most interesting part of the men's pole vault, because with so much talent in the finals, one missed height can cost a favorite like Brad Walker or Derek Miles an Olympic roster spot. In turn, that will open the door for guys like Mark Hollis and Jeremy Scott, among others.

Even if two contenders make the same height, whoever clears the bar first has the advantage. It will be fascinating to see how each athlete pursues the next height, as it could be the difference between winning and losing.

Now include how potentially dangerous of an event pole vault can be, and the higher the heights, the greater the risk. Then again, in a strong field with Olympic spots on the line, expect everyone's A-game.


Olympics Bone to Pick

Using the 2008 Summer Olympics should be enough motivation for the U.S. men's pole-vaulters to set excellent heights in the trials final.

Four years ago Brad Walker may have qualified for Beijing, but he failed to even clear one mark. Derek Miles, on the other hand, did make the Olympic finals, however just missed earning a medal with a fourth place finish.

That alone will be excellent fuel for Walker and Miles to set the standard in the trials, while the other athletes must follow suit.

The strength of the performance Walker and Miles put on will surge through the next athlete who qualifies for London—only there is when we see Team USA avenge the disappointing results from 2008.

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