Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX)

 - Class of 1982

Page 112 of 424


Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX) online yearbook collection, 1982 Edition, Page 112
Page 112

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"Setting the American record "It bugs me Pole vaulter cscrapesl the sk put me up in the clouds, but setting the world record put me somewhere in space, Billy Olson said. "Setting the world record is just an indescribable feeling. I canit even begin to put it into words, but it's the total feeling." Olson, a senior public relations major from Abilene, had an indoor season that took him from one coast to the other. He set and reset the world indoor record four times during the winter season, and in do- ing so he raised the height from an American record of 18-65 to the current world record of 18-10. Olson, who received both local and na- tional coverage for his vaults, set the record in the National Association of In- tercollegiate Athletes indoor champion- ships as he vaulted for ACU for the first time since an accident in September of 1980. While working out in the gymnastics room doing an exercise called "rope vaultingf, Olson vaulted out of the pit and landed on the gym floor. He suffered severe wrist and elbow injuries. The wrist was still broken during the 1982 season, and it changed his style, but it wonit be fixed unless absolutely necessary, he said. A doctor told Olson that he might never vault again, but it wasn't the first time he had been told that by a doctor. While in high school a doctor told him he shouldn't vault again after a serious groin injury. Olson changed doctors, began vaulting again, and before the season was over he had set the state high school record. when people keep asking me about the injury,'l he said. "They keep trying to make a big deal about it. Coach Hood told me this could be a blessing in disguise, and told me not to get discouragedf' Olson continued, "It was tough not to get discouraged, and it was hard to see it as a blessing in disguise. But looking back at it now, it was a blessing. I had to work harder after, and that has helped me a lotfl But the fact that he was able to compete again for the Wildcats could have been a miracle in itself. If ACU had remained an NAIA school, Olson would have been able to compete. But the National Collegiate Athletic Association gives an athlete five 108 Billy oison by J. Scott Russell years to complete school, and since Olson attended Baylor before coming to ACU, he had completed five years of competition. So Olson started the school year as a graduate assistant coach. At the NCAA convention division II, ACU,s division, and division III adopted the rule that athletes could compete for a maximum of 10 semesters. And Olson was once again a competing Wildcat. This winter, the casual observer might have said Olson was a very lucky person to be able to travel to so many different places. But Olson didn't consider himself lucky. "Traveling is the worst part of all of thisf' said Olson. "I'm a homebody, and I wish I could stay home. But the big meets don't come to you." But one of the good things that came from all the traveling he did is the people he came in contact with, he said. "People in some places 9 have always gone out of their way to be nicef, he said. "The people in New York and Canada have always been nice. But the thing that happened in San Angelo shows you what the people around here are likef' While competing in the Angelo State Relays, Olson realized he had left his special vaulting glasses, which help him see the bar, in Abilene. But through the help of some friends in San Angelo, a new pair of glasses were furnished, and Olson was able to compete and win the vault. "But the people I have met and have had the chance to associate with have been the most fun,', he said. "I've met some of the greatest athletes in the world, and some of the all-time greatest." f'I'd have to say the person I've been the most impressed with has been Bob Richards," Olson said. g'He won two Olympic gold medals, and has done just about everything. He's a fantastic man, and he loves people . . ." The pace he set for himself this winter was almost a world record in itself. Almost every weekend he had to vault in two dif- ferent citiesg sometimes the cities were in the same state, and sometimes they were in different countries. While it seemed that Olson set a record every week during the indoor season, the records didn't come quite as quickly in the outdoor season. "I'm getting tired of not setting the out door record or jumping 19 feet," he said "And now there is a lot of pressure on m to do it. In the past it helped to have th pressure on me, but maybe now it's makin, me try too hard." for himself. And a one would expect from someone who spen a great deal of his time in the air, his goal were always set higher. He used to havl car license plates that said 19 FEET, bil that was no longer his top goal. "I know I can jump over 19 feetf' h said. "I don't think I ever said I would g 20 feet, but somebody will. I just want t vault the highest I can, and I haven't don it yetf' "While the indoor record is a nice thin to have, itls really the outdoor record tha is the most important," Olson said. "Pec ple remember who the record holder is out doors. I'm a better outdoor vaulterf' Olson was already looking forward t next year, and the 1984 Olympics in Lo Angeles. "I won't be in school next year, and as result, I'll do betterf' he said. "But I'll sti be in Abilene. And I'll still be workin with the vaulters at ACU. Coach Hoo will be my coach as long as he'll have me.' 'LI think being here with some othe vaulters that are very good has helped a lot,'l Olson continued. "Brad Pursleynd Dale Jenkins always keep pushing me, an that makes me keep working at gettin better. I hope having me around ha helped them too." are definitely my go but they arenit my top priority. They a only a one-shot deal. I could go in as t best in the world, and have an off day an not win the gold medalf, he said. S'But would still be the best in the world. If yo put too much in it and had an off day, would just wreck you." Opposite page: top - At the NAIA indo championship, Billy Olson, a senior fro Abilene, tips the bar with his leg as he prepar to release the poleg bottom left - Olson clea the bar with his armsp bottom right - Ols completes the vault and breaks his previot world record I8-95 with a vault of 18-11 Olson set and reset the world indoor reeor four times during the winter season.

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