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Meet Team USA: Vashti Cunningham


Age: 18
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Sport: High Jump

After Cunningham won the gold medal in the high jump at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in March, she took a lap with the Stars and Stripes draped around her shoulders and faced the media. But she still had more to do: homework.

At only 18 years old, the high school senior became the youngest woman ever to win an International Association of Athletics Federations world indoor title. While Cunningham may be far younger than many of her competitors, she has plenty of experience, since she began her high jump career in the fifth grade. She now trains under her father, four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham. I caught up with her after the worlds for a chat.

Who are some of your track and field role models?

Sprinter] Allyson Felix, and [high jumpers] Anna Chicherova and BlankaVlasic.

Your father competed on a big stage when he played in the NFL. Has he given you any advice about competing at an event like the world championships?

My dad has given me a lot of advice: how to take it all in, how to deal with [success] without being haughty, and how to give energy back to the crowd.

Your dad used to compete in the high jump before his football career, and your older brother, Randall II, competes in high jump now at USC. What's it like being around so many great high jumpers? Do you talk about high jump often with your family?

My brother and I are best friends. We're a dynamic duo. We don't spend all of our time talking about high jump, but sometimes we help each other out.

Do you have any advice for young high jumpers?

Enjoy it now, and have fun. When you get to high school, work hard, and have a thirst for success. And go be great.

Photo: Jacob Kepler