Junior pole vaulter reaches new heights at state championships

When James Gorham attended athletics training, he would spend the majority of his time looking over towards the pole vault mat, wondering what it would be like to soar above the ground.

Then one day he finally had the opportunity to give the event a go and it exceeded all of his expectations. 

“I started doing athletics at Beaton Park and I always saw people doing pole vault at the pole vault pit and I thought how cool it looked.” Gorham said. “Eventually there was an open day where you got to come and try pole vault and it was as much fun as I thought it would be.”

Ready for take off: James Gorham is hoping to reach even greater heights in the pole vault. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Ready for take off: James Gorham is hoping to reach even greater heights in the pole vault. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

While most people might be scared off by the prospect of using a pole to launch your body metres into the air, that is exactly what Gorham loves about the event.

"The best part is being sprung up through the air, putting the energy into the pole and letting it push you up high. It's like being on a trampoline, except you're upside down."

James recently finished third at the NSW All Schools Athletics Championships, clearing a height of 3.30 metres. The bronze medal caps an impressive list of achievements for the Illawarra Grammar School student who finished first at both the 2017 NSW Athletics Championships and 2016 NSW All Schools Championships.

Gorham’s coach Laurie Allison revealed that his success comes down to the 15-year-old’s desire to continually reach greater heights.

“He’s a great kid, very enthusiastic, driven, keen to learn, pays attention and he’s not afraid to ask questions if there’s something he doesn’t quite understand.” Allison said. “Sometimes we even have to get him to slow down a bit because he’s so keen, he always wants to do one more vault.”

Gorham’s next target is to clear the four metre mark and Allison is coinfident that, with the right attitude, he will clear it by the end of the summer.

“We’d like to see him over the 4m mark this season. He’s enthusiastic, he’s competitive, he’s eager to learn and while he maintains that enthusiasm it really is a case of we don’t know how far he can ultimately go.”