FAYETTVILLE, Ark. – July 23, marks one year from the start of the summer Olympics right here on KARK. 23 athletes with Arkansas ties competed in 2016 and it’s expected there could be just as many in Tokyo.
After medaling at her first Olympic games, pole vaulter Sandi Morris hopes to make it back on the podium in 2020.
“It all comes down to that one day,” says Morris.
The University of Arkansas graduate knows a thing or two about preparing for big moments. It was her final attempt at the pole vault at the 2016 games.
“For a fraction of a second in the air I thought I was a gold medalist,” explains Morris.
The memory is just as vivid as the neon shoes she wore that day in Rio de Janeiro.
Fuel for the Future
“It really has motivated me over the years.”
Her silver medal serves as a physical symbol of the hard work it will take to make it back.
“I know that when people say oh my gosh you almost had it, they mean well but at the same time I’m like people aren’t going to say that to me next time.”
Optimistic after ankle surgery, the Arkansas alum is motivated.
“I’ve taken that one loss and turned it into a number of wins over the years.”
This weekend she and three fellow Razorbacks compete in the USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Morris has to place in the top three to make it to the World Championships in the fall.
“It’s just as hard to qualify for, it’s just as hard to win.”
While she’s won a world championship and set new records, nothing compares to the title she will take in the fall .
Two Athletes Find Love on the Track
“What is that on your finger?” asks a reporter.
“It’s a ring!” exclaims Morris.
Last year Morris’ boyfriend Tyrone Smith proposed after a track meet. The two met on the track circuit overseas.
“He’s a very outgoing person, like of like me, and immediately we just hit it off.”
A year later they connected again at the opening ceremony in Rio, where Tyrone carried the flag for his home country of Bermuda.
“He’s a long jumper and I think him just being in the sport just helped with that immediate bond.”
Morris and Smith started dating shortly after that and have traveled the world together. But, competing as a couple does have its challenges.
“I’ll take a jump and kind of lean back and see if I can catch a glimpse of him across the track. It’s hard sometimes because you want to watch each other but at the same time we both have business to complete.”
Their love is long distance now, but that will change on October 19th.
Landing in the Sand
“Instead of standing on the back of a runway, I’ll be on the back of the aisle.”
The power couple is planning a destination wedding in the Florida Keys.
It’s going to be on a beach.”
They will tie the knot in front of track and field’s most elite.
“Growing up some of these people were my idols. They still are. And I’m going to have them at my wedding?”
The bride and groom who’ve dubbed themselves as the jumping duo on social media also have a wedding hashtag.
“Sandi and Ty, twice as fly.”
From vaulting, to marriage vows Morris approaches her big day like the sport that brought her a spouse.
“Just like an attempt in the vault, you can’t have any doubt in your mind.” Once you’re there you have to go for it.”
Sandi also has another hobby! Her 13 pets! Yes, 13! Click here to learn more! https://bit.ly/30QZfNt