Vashti Cunningham of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) smashed her own national high school high jump record by clearing 6 feet, 6 1/4 inches (1.99 meters) at the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday in Portland, Ore.
Cunningham, the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, also set a world juniors record and is the highest women’s high jumper in the world so far in 2016. After clearing the mark, she opted not to continue.
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Randall was in the stands and was holding up flash cards with motivational sayings, according to reports. He also serves Vashti’s coach.
Vashti, 18, opted not to take part in the New Balance Nationals, where many of the top high school athletes are competing this weekend, and instead went to the U.S. Nationals.
Last August outdoors, she bettered her own national high school record, set the American Junior record and tied the World Youth record by clearing 6-5 (1.96 meters) in the high jump at the Pan Am Junior Championships in Edmonton.
Cunningham seems like a lock for the Rio Olympics barring injury or major upset. She also is faced with a decision as to whether to compete in college or turn professional.
“Over the last year and a half, she is the best female high jumper in the country,” USA Track and Field High Jump Chair Dave Kerin told The Washington Post recently. “That includes former international medalists. She’s number one until somebody knocks her off. That’s outrageous at her age.
“People will talk about a great football player and call him once-in-a-decade. She is once-in-a-lifetime right now until the next one comes along. She’s literally beyond people we’ve come across in the history of the event. I don’t throw around faint praise.”