This week Between the Hedges checks in with UGA track & field star Morgann Leleux. Leleux, a pole-vaulter, was runner up at this year's NCAA National Indoor Championships and is currently the top American in the outdoor rankings. Here's what she had to say.
BtH: Thanks for sitting down to talk with us, Morgann. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself--how'd you end up pole-vaulting at Georgia?
Leleux: Well, I'm from New Iberia, Louisiana, where my dad was my pole vault coach and I was a gymnast. He was the one who gradually got me into pole vaulting and I guess I ended up being good enough to come here on scholarship.
BtH: A lot of our readers, not to mention myself, won't be too familiar with the details of your sport. Why don't you take us through a meet day leading up to your jump?
Leleux: I really try to stay relaxed, keep my adrenaline low. I try not to get too excited. And before I even go out there I give myself a number that I want to reach like 14' 4". Up until the meet starts I do my warmups, I stay relaxed, and when it comes I turn my adrenaline on and get ready to jump high. That way I come in at a high height and from there, take it and keep going higher.
BtH: I know that at your first ever competition you tied the then-school record (14' 3½''). What's your current personal best, and what are you aiming for?
Leleux: Right now, my best is 14' 5¼''. The last home meet I wasn't actually supposed to jump, but Coach [Petros Kyprianou] was like, "Hey, it's a good day! Go grab your spikes and uniform, you're gonna jump today."
BtH: Really! How'd you feel about that?
Leleux: No, it was good. It was originally just going to be a conditioning week for me, and I had lifted extra and all that, so we just treated it as practice and just gave me a fun home meet to jump without much pressure.
BtH: It's obviously a really taxing sport. Do stress injuries like shin splints ever bug you?
Leleux: I think because of gymnastics those problems don't really bother me. Doing gymnastic means you have to keep yourself really fit--I was a level 10 back home.
BtH: That's college level, isn't it?
Leleux: Yeah, I've actually been training gymnastics on the side. My coach says that if I make 15 feet then I can try and be a Gym Dog as well.
BtH: That's really cool, we'd love to see you out there. But why 15 feet?
Leleux: That's the height that'll get me a look with the Olympic team. I'm going to the Olympic trials soon. It's really stressful. Because of all the competition for spots in the US, it basically comes down to how high you jump on that one day. If I can make 15' then I'll probably end up in the top 3, and get a spot on the team.
BtH: That's awesome. Good luck, and thanks again.
Leleux: My pleasure!
-By Eliot Beckham