Interview with Chelsea Johnson, Number 3 on US charts in pole vault


Chelsea Johnson, as of a week ago, had just set a new personal best of 4.68m or 15 feet, 4 1/4 inches, making her the number three American vaulter of all times. Chelsea was a hurdler first, and in her senior year of high school, tried jumping at one of her father's vault schools.

Here is an interview we did for Athletes Only after her pb:

AO: Chelsea, Congratulations on your new personal best of 4.68 meters! Tell us about the jump?

Chelsea: I was jumping decent that day but not spectacular .My first attempt was a really good jump but I was a little under and as a result came up short. My second attempt (the jump I made it on) was kinda sloppy but I just made it work because I was so determined to finally PR!

AO: How have you come back from your injury?

Chelsea: During the time I was unable to vault I did hard lifting 3 days a week and running 4 days. I was focused on getting in the best shape possible so I would immediately be ‘ready to go” once my wrist was healed. I also spent a lot of time doing imitative pole vault drills that my dad has designed as well as a lot of mental imagery.

AO: What do you remember about your first jump ever?

Chelsea: It was the summer before my senior year at my dad’s pole vault camp in Kutztown. Some of the coaches had finally convinced me to give it a shot and I remember running as fast as I could down the runway and flying out of control in the air. Needless to say, I was hooked.

AO: What do you love about the pole vault?

Chelsea: I love that there is always something new you have be improving on- whether its your technique or fitness. Also I love the closeness among the pole vault community. Everyone has such a passion for the sport and we all want to see each other succeed.

AO: What is different for you now, as a professional athlete, as opposed to when you were a college athlete?

Chelsea: The nice thing is that I can pick and choose my own meets, if I want to take a weekend off I do it, in college I definitely did not have that luxury. The downside to being a professional is that you don’t have that team aspect- you are only jumping for yourself. At UCLA I loved all that entailed being on the team- from the team meetings to helping your teammate push through a hard time. I owe much of my success in college to my coaches and teammates.

AO: How was the vault for you when you competed in high school?

Chelsea: Well I only did one season (my senior year) and I found success quite rapidly but at the time I had no idea how unusual that progression was. I was quite naive which I think worked to my advantage because the pressure and expectations never really bothered me.

AO Your dad is an Olympic medalist, your mom is a community college coach, you have sports everywhere,
how do you unwind?

Chelsea: I love going to the beach- surfing, laying out, all of it! I also enjoy listening to live music and playing with my dog, Kona.. I like sports and competition, but I also like lots of down time and think its necessary to have a life outside of pole vaulting and athletics.

AO: What are your goals this year?

Chelsea: Make the Olympic team and jump higher !

AO If you could tell a young vaulter about your biggest misconception when you started to vault, what was it?

Chelsea: Probably my greatest misconception was that I thought I should just try to jump my highest every day in training. Later I found that this is not possible and that short run drills are very important!

AO: How important is a coach?

Chelsea: Coaches are important, especially for young vaulters because safety is such an issue. I have been very lucky in this regard to have Anthony Curran and my dad as my sole two coaches because they are both very knowledgeable in the sport, and have been supportive through the ups and downs every vaulter experiences.

end of interview

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