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Meet Ireland's Olympic team: Tori Pena

California’s Pena has already made Irish athletics history – now she’s hoping for more.

Tori Pena Source: Karel Delvoije/INPHO

Event: Pole Vault

Who is she? Pena, 28, is the only person ever to represent Ireland in the pole vault at the Olympics.

Where’s she from? Born in California but her current training base is in Phoenix, Arizona. Pena is eligible to represent Ireland through her Derry grandmother and has held dual Irish-American citizenship since 2010.

Olympic CV: Pena made history four years ago when she became the first-ever Irish athlete to qualify for the Olympic pole vault. The occasion got the better of her in London, however, and she failed all three attempts at 4.10 metres and was eliminated in the qualifying round.

Road to Rio: Pena guaranteed her Olympic return by clearing the qualifying mark of 4.50m last season and she has looked to improve on that again this year. She jumped a season’s best 4.52m in Long Beach back in April but hasn’t yet managed to better her PB and Irish national record of 4.60m set in 2013. She competed at the European Championships earlier this month but her best jump of 4.35m was not enough for a place in the final.

When does she start? The pole vault qualifying round is towards the end of the schedule and begins at 1.30pm Irish time on Tuesday 16 August.

Where can I follow her? Follow her on Twitter @pvtoripena, or on Instagram here.

What she says: “I had a really terrible London 2012. That was a really a big learning experience — learning why I cracked under pressure — but there were a lot of positives at the same time.” (The42, January 2016)

Medal chances? No athlete has won a pole vault medal with a jump of less than 4.70m since Sydney 2000 so it would take a significant improvement on Pena’s PB to put her into the mix. On the basis of her form this season, qualification for the final is well within her grasp. Jerry says 2/5 for a medal…

jerry2

And here’s something you probably didn’t know… A teenage Pena competed in the World Irish Dancing Championships in Killarney in 2003.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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