Having just set the American record in the pole vault this June (with a leap of 19 feet, nine inches, and change), Mountlake Terrace resident

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Best Local Prospect for Gold in Beijing

Brad Walker

Having just set the American record in the pole vault this June (with a leap of 19 feet, nine inches, and change), Mountlake Terrace resident Brad Walker is considered the event's Olympic favorite. Not only did the former UW star (class of 2003) win at the World Championships last fall, but his new PR of 6.04 meters is higher than anyone else in the world has leapt in the past seven years. Originally from Spokane, Walker now spends most of the year competing on the European circuit. During the off-season, he explains, "I definitely don't get recognized in the Seattle area. I leave Seattle...[and] people come up and shake my hand and ask if I'm the world champion." The pole vault is a glamorous yet unforgiving event: One tiny miscalculation, a gust of wind, a flaw in one of those fiberglass poles, and a favorite can become a footnote. But to grab the gold in a sea of flashing cameras could mean a Wheaties box, endorsements, and a seat next to Leno and Letterman. Meaning Walker might finally be recognized in his hometown.—Brian Miller

 
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