Former UW athlete and current WSU track coach Brad Walker did not make it out preliminaries in the pole vault, but will stay on at Olympic Trials to coach Cougars' Thane Pierson
EUGENE, Ore. — Two-time Olympian Brad Walker didn’t really start training for the U.S Olympic track and field trials until last month, when he reunited with his college coach, Pat Licari and decided to compete in Eugene.
The former All-American pole vaulter for the UW Huskies joined Washington State as an assistant track coach last fall, and was so engrossed in coaching that he hadn’t competed in a meet since World Championships last August in Beijing.
Under those circumstances, Walker wasn’t upset that he didn’t make the pole vault finals after failing to clear 17 feet, 18 ½ inches in the preliminaries Saturday afternoon.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Walker, who holds the American record of 6.04 meters (19 feet, 8 inches). “I wasn’t pole vaulting well, but it wasn’t bad for not really focusing and training as a full-time athlete.
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“I was going in here with no real expectations other than to enjoy the meet and have fun.”
Walker, 35, said he was never officially retired but just took some time off from training in part because he was dealing with some health issues over the last year.
“It’s some sort of fatigue,” Walker said. “We haven’t figured it out. It’s been on and off for a long time in my career, but we’re working on it to see what it is.”
At this point, however, Walker said he doesn’t see himself making a bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
“I’ve got a responsibility to get the WSU program up and running. I want to keep these guys jumping high, and that’s my focus,” Walker said.
Now, Walker will turn his attention back to coaching. His athlete, WSU’s Thane Pierson will compete in the high jump at Olympic trials on July 8.
“It’s funny, as an older athlete who’s made a couple of teams, my emotions coming into this meet are a lot more subdued than at my first Olympic trials, and it’s fun to think about where (Pierson’s) mind is and what he’s up against,” Walker said. “I’m excited for to come in and feel the emotion and energy and just experience what it’s like going to the trials and to try and compete well.”