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London 2012: Introducing... Tori Pena
The US-born pole vaulter will be Ireland’s first ever representative in the event at this year’s Games.

Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Event: Pole vault

Who is she? Born in California, the 24-year-old holds the Irish pole vault record at 4.52m and will be the first ever athlete to represent Ireland in the event.

Road to London: Pena, who is eligible to represent Ireland through Derry-born maternal grandmother, acquired dual citizenship in 2010 before joining the Finn Valley Athletic Club in Donegal.

She cleared the Olympic A standard of 4.50m to win gold at the Beach Track and Field Classic at Cerritos College, California in March and become the sole representative of the country in the field events.

What she says about herself: (On qualification) “Lots of things are coming together with my vault. I’m very pleased and 60+ should be very doable this outdoor season.

(One representing Ireland) “Although my grandma was never into sports herself, she’s always been a role model for me. I think it’s pretty unbelievable for her to think that I’m representing Ireland in the pole vault of all things. I don’t think it’s anything she could have ever imagined.”

Medal chances: Pena’s record of 4.52m ranked her in tenth place going into the European Track and Field Championships in Helsinki last week. However, having cleared 4.15m, 4.25m and 4.35m, she failed at 4.40m and suffered the disappointment of missing out on a place in the final.

Getting among the medals in London will be a tough ask. Jimmy says two.

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