Americans won the first 16 Olympic pole vault championships, then suffered a drought from 1972-96 before Nick Hysong struck gold in 2000 and Tim Mack followed in 2004. Although he only placed third at the 2008 Olympic Trials, Walker was the best hope to add to the U.S. medal total in Beijing. But he failed to clear the 5.65 meters (18 feet, 6½ inches) necessary to qualify for the final. Walker suffered more disappointment in 2009, as an injury prevented him from competing in the World Championships.
Walker broke Jeff Hartwig’s American record with a 6.04-meter vault (19 feet, 3¾ inches) in June 2008 at the Prefontaine Classic. Hartwig’s former mark of 6.03/19-9¼ was set in 2000. Walker then took two shots at Sergei Bubka’s world record but fell short.
Olympic dream delayed:
Walker cleared 5.75/18-10¼ at the 2004 Olympic Trials but that was only good enough for sixth place in that highly competitive field. He only needed to clear 5.65/18-6½ to earn a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad.
Walker won the World Outdoor Championship in 2007 and the World Indoor title in 2006. He placed third at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials but won five previous national championships: 2005 and 2007 outdoors, 2005-06 and 2008 indoors. He also two NCAA indoor titles for the University of Washington. Walker was ranked first in the world for the 2005 and ’07 seasons.
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 185
- Birth date: June 21, 1981
- Hometown: Aberdeen, South Dakota
- World Championships: Two (2007, outdoor; 2006, indoor)