If all goes well on the pole vault runway, Fabiana Murer of Brazil will celebrate her birthday one day late in 2016.
The accomplished vaulter turns 35 on March 16, one day before the best vaulters in the world gather at the Oregon Convention Center for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016.
All of the finalists – 12 men and 12 women – will have reason to feel special, as their event is the only one scheduled for March 17, meaning fans can focus all of their attention on the pole vault.
“It is a wonderful idea,’’ Murer said. “Pole vault is a beautiful event, with its movements, so I think it will bring a lot of attention. This competition format will motivate (the) athletes to jump higher and I believe we can all get big results.’’
Murer already has some big results on her resume, and some voids as well.
She won gold at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu and earned a silver medal in Beijing last summer. She’s lacking Olympic success, however, after representing her country at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Murer plans to use the World Indoor meet in Portland as a springboard to a 2016 outdoor season that culminates in her country at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.
“I think I should put Worlds (Indoors) in my schedule because I need to start to compete as soon as possible, to get rhythm, to meet all the women who probably will be at the Olympics,’’ Murer said. “It is really hard for me to face a long period of training. I need to compete! And, of course, because I want to ght for a medal in Portland.’’
Having the Summer Olympics in one’s homeland carries with it a special kind of responsibility, or pressure, but it’s something Murer embraces. As well, it’s the first time the Olympics will be held in South America.
“Obviously, all Brazilian athletes will have to face some pressure, but at the same time, we’ll receive great support,’’ she said. “This is very good, because it can help us to overcome our expectations. In London (in 2012) many British athletes got brilliant results, and Great Britain achieved many medals. I’m very relaxed and hoping to perform very well in my country.’’
Murer got her start in the pole vault in 1997, when she was 16 and had grown too tall – 5 feet, 7 3⁄4 inches or 1.72 meters – for gymnastics. At a local track and eld competition, she tried such events as the 50 and 1,000 meters and the long jump. When a former Brazilian vaulter named Elson Miranda de Souza spotted Murer, he encouraged her to try the pole vault. They later married, and de Souza remains his wife’s coach.
Murer got her first taste of global competition at the 1998 World Junior Championships. In a career of steady progress, she was the 2010 Diamond League winner in her event and the 2011 World Champion. Her personal best is 15-11, or 4.85 meters. As with all women vaulters not named Yelena Isinbayeva or Jenn Suhr, 5.0 meters (16-4 3⁄4) remains a goal for Murer.
“I still have this dream to achieve five meters, but it is very difficult to reach this height,’’ she said. “I don’t know if I’ll reach it, but I’d like to.’’
Even though she’s from a country where soccer (f) is a national obsession, Murer never had much to do with the sport that made some Brazilians world famous.
“I only played at school, and for a few times,’’ Murer said. “I’m not good with balls. I really prefer poles! (lol).’’
Perhaps she’ll use one of those poles to ensure a happy belated birthday on March 17.