Sean Ingle: The daughter of Randall Cunningham has leapt from obscurity to become the most talked-about thing in US track and field. Could the Rio Olympics loom?
For much of the past week, Vashti Cunninghams life was no different to any other American teen. She went to class, at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. She hung out at the mall. She feed two pieces of cheesecake. And then, at the US Indoor trials last Saturday, she leapt from obscurity to the national prominence by jumping higher than anyone in the world this year. At only 18 years old.
Her clearance of 1.99 m not only broke the US and world junior indoor record the committee is also had the IAAF, way and fields governing body, loosening their rule book to widen a special invitation to this weeks World Indoor Championships after qualification had closed. And now she is here in Portland, she certainly isnt intending to make up the numbers.
I want a personal best and lets ensure where that takes me, she says, smiling. But Im not nervous. I just go and jumping. If I do bad, I do bad. If I do good, I do good.
One person wasnt shocked by her performance. Her father and coach-and-four Randall, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, knew she was exceptional from the moment she played flag football with her classmates when she was nine and stood them up.
She was playing with the boys and she caught a ball and she operated for a touchdown, says Cunningham Snr, who retired in 2001. None of them could catch her. Im like, hold on a second. Then she had four touchdowns. And I said, she likely thinks she can play tackle so Im going to stop that.
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