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The Canadians raise the bar

Heather Hamilton
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Peter Simmons

ALTIS Brand Lead & MD of 5or6 Design & Branding

Heather Hamilton and Jason Wurster are pole vaulters from Canada who have trained and competed for over 10 years. They have also been in a relationship for almost 7 years and attribute their success in pole vault to a healthy, balanced relationship at home and at the track. They have recently completed two cycles in Phoenix and in the spring of this year, officially joined the World Athletics Center under the guidance of Dan Pfaff.

25 year old Heather and 28 year old Jason have made their presence known in Canadian Athletics. Jason has been a National Champion 6 times and Heather has been a silver medalist. Both have medaled at NACAC and Pan Am Juniors. Jason has a personal best of 5.60m which makes him the second best male vaulter of all time in Canada. Heather has jumped 4.31m, which makes her the top five of all time in Canada. These marks are impressive, but the couple both find themselves striving for more than what their personal best show on paper.

Heather and Jason have said that Canadian success doesn’t necessarily mean world stage- ready. In order to make a change for the better, they both decided to join the World Athletics Center this year. Leaving coaches and training partners behind, they made a joint decision to start over. Although they both have different goals and ideas of where they want to go in the sport, their ambition remains the same. Joining the World Athletics Center has been a turning point in their track career and they share their story with WAC on how their decision has been nothing but positive so far.

Heather has had early success in the sport, having medaled in international junior competitions. She appeared on the National podium in 2008 and has strives to make it to the top once again. With her personal best close to the B standard for Worlds, she hopes to better her mark and become a contender for the games. She comments on how since joining WAC, she has seen instant improvement in her pole vault and how she sees her upcoming season unfolding, “My goal for this season is to become more consistent, and implement technical changes to my vault. I’ve come a long way in only a few months, and I want to give myself the time to really map the proper movement patterns. So far, it’s resulted in rapid improvement.”

Jason, like many in the track world, has a specific goal for this season. He dreams of making the World Championship team in Moscow, Russia and represent his country. His personal best is 5.60, just ten centimeters off the A standard. He believes he can qualify and make the team although a slight hamstring injury held him back this spring. He says that he is still confident in his abilities because he trusts the plan that WAC has set out for recovery. His indoor season (2013) was the best of his career. He reflects on his indoor season and says about his upcoming summer, “I had the best competition season of my career indoors. I feel this is because of the (WAC) programming. It is the correct mixture of load and recovery, which allowed me to stay healthy and really get into a good rhythm.WAC has given me the tools to jump higher and the main reason for this is because I know how to battle the nagging injuries. The program has a number of options depending on (my) health status. I know that I can still train through injuries and make smarter decisions.”

Both Heather and Jason credit Dan Pfaff as being crucial in their pole vault “turn around”. The world-renowned coach has helped them both physically and mentally in training.

Heather took time off last outdoor season after suffering from sciatic nerve issues, quad and abductor strains. Dan has helped her change her focus, and primarily channeled her energy into training smarter. At the WAC, the help of the physio and chiropractic team and the accessibility to on-site therapy all contributes to staying healthy. Heather says, “Although injuries have subsided, there are always tweaks to deal with during training, but the use of on-site therapy has prevented so many tweaks and strains from becoming worse.”

Heather is currently healthy and fit for the season and she has been consistently jumping 4.30m in competition. She again speaks highly of the training at the WAC and how the commitment to the program has shown results, “Once Dan joined WAC, it was the natural thing for us to do, as we could work with amazing coaches and athletes in one of the best training environments. We’ve made many technical changes and we are both physically and mentally a lot stronger. We’ve both improved since joining WAC”.

The next two weeks are important for the pole vault couple, as they will compete at the Canadian National Championships at the end of the month. Both are looking to improve their personal bests and qualify for Worlds in August. They claim that their work they’ve put into their training and their commitment to the WAC will result in top performances.

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