Present Olympics Athletes >> Brad Walker
- Date of birth
World Championships (2 medals - 1 gold, 1 silver)
- Pole vault: 1st (2007), 2nd (2005)
World Indoor Championships (2 medals - 2 gold)
- Pole vault: 1st (2006), 2nd (2008)
IAAF World Athletics Finals
- Pole vault: 1st (2005, 2007)
Walker looking to break the Olympic vault
World champion Brad Walker will be the man to beat in the men's Olympic pole vault where competition will be fierce, but the American appears to have the mental strength and savvy to hold the psychological edge going into the cauldron of a gold medal battle.
The lanky Walker had his finest hour in the searing Osaka heat when he cleared 5.86m on his first attempt to edge French rival Romain Mesnil who had also jumped the same mark but as he did so only on his second try Walker was the 2007 world champion.
It was barely a surprise considering he had jumped higher than anyone else that season with a leap of 5.95m and finished the campaign ranked world number one in the IAAF rankings.
That narrowest of wins in Japan followed a silver medal showing at the 2005 world championships when under pouring rain and heavy winds in Helsinki a jump of 5.75m gave him second behind Dutchman Rens Blom who left the bar standing at 5.80m.
Then in the build-up to Beijing, he achieved the fourth highest jump in history when he soared over the bar at 6.04m during competition at the Prefontaine Classic on June 8, 2008.
The outdoor record is held by the legendary Ukrainian Sergei Bubka with a mark of 6.14m.
Born in the remote town of Aberdeen, South Dakota, he attended high school in the State of Washington before continuing his studies at the University of Washington, an institute renowned for its sports programme in the highly competitive NCAA championships.
A sporting scholar
Solid with the books as well as his sport, Walker won the 2003 NCAA indoor championships by a mile which in pole vault terms converts to nearly 23cm with a jump of 5.80m and equal to the winning mark in the world indoor championships that same year. He was 22 at the time.
He was tied for third in the IAAF indoor rankings at the end of 2003 but a disappointing performance at the Olympic trials for Athens 2004 meant he missed a chance to go to his first Olympiad.
But he put that setback behind him to have his best season in 2005.
The highlight was evidently the world silver in Finland but he also picked up IAAF Grand Prix wins in Paris, Sheffield, Rieti and Monaco as well as winning the US indoor and outdoor titles.
All this was enough for Track and Field magazine to declare him the best pole vaulter in the world.
He achieved his personal best of 6 metres in 2006 which was the highest anyone jumped all year and pulled off a remarkable win at the world indoor championships in Moscow.
After banging his head in a training jump and in danger of pulling out of the competition, he went on to qualify for the final before producing a gold medal winning leap of 5.80m and his first major international victory.
That led to his world title in Osaka and he is now firmly established as world number one heading to the Beijing Games where he is set to make his Olympic debut.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.