EUGENE, Ore. – American record holder Brad Walker didn’t have to win at the U.S. Track and Field Championships to qualify for the Worlds, but that didn’t deter him from a first-place effort Saturday.
Walker, the former University High School and University of Washington star, cleared 18 feet, 101/4 inches to tie with three other vaulters, but won because of fewer misses.
Not bad for someone who was in his first competition of the season.
Walker, now a three-time national champion, had already qualified for the World Championships to be held in Berlin Aug. 15-23.
“I came in knowing I had the bye to the Worlds being the defending World Champion so I wasn’t pressed, I wasn’t stressed,” Walker told reporters. “I thought everyone would clear 5.70 (18-81/2), but I thought I had a good chance to win at 5.75 (18-101/4).”
Walker’s national record vault is 19-93/4.
“I was coming off a short approach so I wasn’t close to being at 100 percent of what I can actually jump, Walker said of Saturday’s effort. “I know I can jump significantly higher, but I didn’t want to push the approach.”
Walker said he expects to compete in London next, then possibly Monaco and one or two other meets before the Worlds.