NCAA National Pole Vaulting Champion Jordan Yamoah fell 13 feet through the air, and nearly broke his back.
The doctors told him if he had fallen two inches from where he landed he would not be walking.
He risks his life every time he leaps across that bar.
“You have to be committed and serious with it,” said Yamoah, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology and sports business.
All the way from Poughkeepsie, New York, Yamoah brought his talent to TAMUK.
“I’m definitely not used to being in Texas, and it was a big change, but so far I really like it,” he said.
Yamoah began pole vaulting his freshman year in high school.
When he tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make the cut, he decided to give track and field a try.
“I started out with many different events from hurdles to shock put, and asked my coaches if I could try pole vault,” he said. “Two weeks later, I was making 8’6 at my first meet and the rest is history.”
Yamoah runs with a 15-foot pole to push himself up above the bar.
He describes the sport as exhilarating and the feelings are indescribable.
“There are no words to describe the feeling. It’s an adrenaline rush flinging myself across the bar. You have to experience it yourself to understand,” he said as he moved his hands enthusiastically.
Yamoah chose to keep going with pole vaulting to gain the recognition he desires.
“I see myself getting more recognized in pole vault then any team sport. With track, it is a team, but I can get more recognition for my accomplishments,” he said.
Like most athletes, Yamoah has a ritual before competition after all of the practicing.
For instance, he will prepare himself by listening to classical music the night before to calm his nerves and it helps him be well rested. One of his favorite classical pieces is Storm by Antonio Vivaldi.
The day of the meet he listens to, specifically, Doomsday by Nero or any kinds of dub step or electronic music to get his blood pumping.
Yamoah is a very competitive athlete and enjoys competing against intimidating athletes. “I like to compete against Division 1 athletes because it helps me strive to go higher,” he said.
Yamoah gains most of his inspiration from watching Olympic athletes and professional pole vaulters and their success.
“I see Olympic athletes and I know that I can get up there someday, make those heights, and reach my goals,” said Yamoah.
He is aiming to clear an 18-foot-3-inch attempt during his time here.
Since he has been with the Javelinas track and field team, he has won 1st in the NCAA Nationals at 17-foot-4-inches, Field Athlete of the Year in the South Central Region in Division 2, and was the IBC Bank Athlete of the week twice.
Due to pole vaulting being a dangerous and difficult sport, there can be many aches and pains.
“Once, I competed with a torn meniscus at a state qualification meet and I was able to finish the season and place at Nationals in high school with it torn,” said Yamoah. Through all of the speed bumps Yamoah keeps on going with high spirits.
“I still push myself and if you love the sport that much, you are willing to do anything to keep going,” he said.
To avoid getting injured, Yamoah’s coach Ryan Dall has the athletes on a strict schedule. They practice two to three days a week for about four hours each day. This is a way to get the athletes prepared, but not overwhelmed.
“It is a very demanding schedule and we’re just trying to pull it all off,” said Yamoah.
When Yamoah is not practicing or competing, he spends his free time studying and hanging out with friends.
“I like to listen to music,
study, read books,” he said.
A book Yamoah likes to read is Slam by Walter D. Meyers.
“I know it sounds elementary, but I just love reading it,” said Yamoah.
Yamoah has many different ideas for his future, but hasn’t set anything in stone.
“After college, I hope to go pro with pole vaulting and I still plan on going to school for my masters degree in business,” he said.
Yamoah dreams of working with many large companies in the sports business, such as USATF, ESPN, Nike and Adidas.
“I’m not too sure where I’m going, but I’m just taking it day by day,” said Yamoah.
Yamoah plans to keep with pole vaulting and not let anyone get in his way of his dream. “I don’t see myself doing anything else but pole vaulting, so I plan to just keep doing it,” said Yamoah. “Once I start something I have to finish it.”