By Bill Livingston

Two Olympic medalists have been well-known at Quicken Loans area in Cleveland, Ohio, days earlier than Christmas 2004. One used to be the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, the "Chosen One" of the NBA. He had a bronze medal from the Athens video games that summer season. the opposite used to be a Cleveland homeboy too, a gold medalist who had flown larger than somebody ahead of at the Olympic level. not often someone knew his identify. He used to be Tim Mack. His highschool trainer didn't see whatever relatively promising within the younger pole–vaulter. Mack by no means made it to the country meet, and he was once the 1st to confess he had an apprehension of heights. yet because of his unflinching decision and self assurance, Mack went directly to turn out that he used to be something yet mediocre. In 2004 the younger athlete received the Olympic gold medal for pole vaulting. His bounce of nineteen ft 6–1/4 inches used to be not just Mack's own top however the optimum in Olympic historical past. Award-winning activities columnist invoice Livingston follows Mack as he practices one of many world's...

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Extra resources for Above and Beyond. Tim Mack, the Pole Vault, and the Quest for Olympic Gold

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She made excuses when she had to give up racquetball and bowling. Arlene Mack was never one who wanted to be the object of sympathy. She now wears a brace on her right leg that corrects the drop foot condition that is a symptom of MS. The device helps her walk in a normal, heel-to-toe manner. Arlene’s illness is never completely out of Tim’s mind. In 2006, a year and a half after his gold medal, her son would fly to parched, dusty Odessa, Texas, the hometown of Toby Stevenson. There, Mack and Stevenson, the high-flying rivals in Athens, Jeff Hartwig, the American record-holder, and Nick Hysong, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, headed a contingent of pole-vaulters in a benefit meet to fund research into multiple sclerosis.

It’s always been a part of me. I’d be in the batting cages for an hour at a time before baseball season. I would be out on the sidewalk when I started doing the pole vault, working on drills, working against the side of the house, doing it alone. I always had to prove myself. My back was always against the wall,” Mack said. Even then, he connected with coaches. These were the days before every child got to play in football, before every participant received ribbons in track and field, before self-esteem was held more valuable than excellence.

Mack’s world grew wider there. As in life, some of what he encountered wasn’t particularly pleasant. He learned from all of it. “Tim always talks about being so lucky and having so many people support him,” Kyle said. “But he’s the kind of guy people like to be around. He’s kind, sincere, soft spoken. ” Mack walls himself off from distractions at a meet, refusing to watch his competitors’ jumps, intensifying his isolation. He lies on his back with his feet up, a visor keeping the sun off and tunneling his vision, the focus growing narrower until it finally reaches the pinpoints of light that are Mack’s jumping “cues,” which are seemingly dry, dull reminders about arm movement and posture.

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