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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Yue

Confident and energized, Alex Throndson continues to soar in the pole vault

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

Alex Throndson
Alex Throndson clears the bar at 3.81-metres en route to winning the Sharon Anderson Memorial meet hosted at the University of Toronto.

“Trying to jump higher, keep improving, and more personal bests.”

It’s said numerous times throughout sports and easier said than done, but for Canadian pole vaulter Alex Throndson, her confidence and determination shown over the last year and a half demonstrates her potential to succeed in the goals she’s set out for her 2019 season and beyond.

For the Toronto, Ont., native, Throndson is still new to the sport and pole vault. She spent 13 years competing in gymnastics, but transitioned to track and field when she became “too tall” for the sport. Now, a year and a half later, Throndson has already achieved quite the accomplishments.

At her first OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletics Associations) Championships last year, Throndson rose to the occasion, jumping 3.85-metres to win the provincial title, 25-centimetres higher than the runner-up. Following OFSAA, she represented Canada for the first time in Jamaica for the Kingston International U18 Meet before increasing her personal-best to 3.92-metres at the Brandon Royal Canadian Legion Championships in August 2018, more on that below. She would represent Canada at the bigger stage in Buenos Aires for the Youth Olympic Games where she finished just off the podium, clearing a height of 3.82-metres to finish in fourth place. For Throndson, she understands she still has lots to learn, and took in the experience to see what it takes to be among the worlds’ best.

“I got to see so many different people from so many different countries and being exposed to not just your own sport at an international level but being able to see everything else was really exciting to watch and be a part of,” Throndson recalls.

With the success from the 2018 season, Throndson opened her 2019 season the only way she could, winning the Sharon Anderson Memorial meet at the University of Toronto with a clearance height of 3.80-metres. Competing amongst university level athletes, her 3.80m would currently rank her fourth in the U Sports rankings.

Nothing is set and she has yet to commit but for the senior at Silverthorn Institute Collegiate, Throndson is eyeing the University of Toronto Varsity Blues program, among other schools, as possible university destinations. Already training with the University of Toronto Track and Field Club (UTTC), it’s her first choice and she’s already adapted to training there with her coach, Tom Moss and the rest of the Varsity Blues jumpers.

“We have a lot of good things going here, and for her to commit to UofT would show an endorsement to what we’re doing from all our junior development athletes to our Varsity athletes,” Moss says. “Any time you can have a top recruit in the country come or, for us, stay with our program it’s a positive and she would automatically be a contender at U Sports, to be a medallist for five years to come.”

At a larger scale, Throndson is currently ranked 8th on the Athletics Canada rankings for this year's indoor season. She’s the youngest athlete in the top 15, with Canadian record holder, Alysha Newman sitting atop the list, with a 4.71-metre clearance in Karlsruhe, Germany. The 17-year-old is already among good company, something she hopes to learn from.

Alysha Newman
Olympian and Canadian pole vault record-holder Alysha Newman at the Sharon Anderson Memorial meet at the University of Toronto.

“She’s definitely a role model for me,” Throndson says. “I look up to her and now that I got her old record, I’m going to try to keep going up and possibly get more! I try to watch her as much as possible and competing with her a few times has been really cool, to see what she does in competitions so I can try to mimic it and see if it helps me.”

The record she mentions is the under-18 record set by Newman in 2011 with a clearance of 3.91-metres, that mark being passed when Throndson cleared 3.92-metres in Brandon, Manitoba last season.

As much as much as we may start to look for comparisons between Newman and Throndson, Moss is careful in drawing comparisons too soon.

“They both come from strong gymnastics backgrounds, Alex is a bigger athlete which could potentially help her in the long run, being taller, and they’re both dynamic, but at this stage I don’t want to say there is a direct comparison, Newman being both the indoor and outdoor record holder,” Moss explains. “As both U18 athletes, Alexzandra broke her record, and she’s trending in the right direction.”

Alex Throndson
A senior at Silverthorn Institute Collegiate, one of the top track recruits of the year is leaning towards committing to the UofT Varsity Blues if all goes well in school.

“Sport’s funny, you have to be consistent and consistently improve and also lucky in terms of health and putting yourself in the right environment to succeed.”

And as she continues to compete and learn the event, she hopes to collect more experiences along the way. Looking forward, her goal is to make the Junior Pan American Canadian team in Costa Rica in July.

The chase for the four metre mark will put her amongst elite company in Canadian pole vault, but she understands that it’s still early in her career and there are things to keep working on before being able to join the likes of Newman and Anicka Newell at the top of the pole vault standings.

“I’m still pretty new to pole vaulting, we’re still trying to get up there, getting the proper technique down and putting it all together,” Throndson says. “Track has been really going well so I’m really happy with that.”

© Jonathan Yue
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