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Olympics: The day New Iberia native Morgann LeLeux became an Olympian, it was hotter than Louisiana

Koki Riley,

Lafayette Daily Advertiser, July 24, 2021

Click here, then scroll down for the video of Morgann's successful jump.

 

There's a phrase Morgann LeLeux repeats to herself out loud  every time she makes prepares to clear the bar in the pole vault.

"One, two, one two three, drop, lift, jump."

"One, two, one two three, drop, lift, jump."

By repeating those words, LeLeux is clearing her mind. It was how the New Iberia native and former UL athlete refocused during the final round at the U.S.  Team Trials last month and qualified for the Olympics for the first time.

"I just say that over and over and over, just so I can clear my mind," LeLeux said.

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LeLeux, a five-time LHSAA state champion, signed with Georgia in 2012. She won SEC indoor titles in 2012 and 2013 and an outdoor championship in 2014.

She then transferred to UL ahead of the 2016 season. In her lone season with the Ragin' Cajuns, LeLeux won the Sun Belt Conference title.

The 28-year-old LeLeux did not make the U.S. team in 2012 and was an alternate in 2016, before finally making the team in 2020.

Morgann Leleaux is presented with the key to the city during a ceremony at City Hall on Friday, July 2, 2021.

Morgann Leleux is presented the key to the city during a ceremony at city hall on July 2, 2021. Scott Clause/USA Network.

On the last day of the Olympic pole vault trials, the weather was unusually hot in Eugene, Oregon, with the high reaching 103 degrees.

But the heat played to LeLeux's advantage, as someone who had gotten used to training in Louisiana. Although her competition, according to her coach and father Shane LeLeux, wasn't.

"She's warming up with a big old smile on her face because we've been jumping at UL for the last three weeks in that kind of environment," Shane LeLeux said. "I'm looking at all the good athletes and they're still sitting on their butts because nobody wants to go out in the sun and get hot."

LeLeux cleared the bar on her first attempt in each of the initial three rounds.

By the end of those first three bars, there were five womleft fighting for three spots on the Olympic team.

"Those are the bars I make consistently all the time," LeLeux said. "I've probably made them over a thousand times at least, each."

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When the bar was raised to 15 feet, 5 inches, LeLeux missed her first two attempts, but so had three of her competitors — Olivia GruverJenn Suhr and Sandi Morris. Gruver and Suhr had also missed vaults during the earlier rounds, giving her a lead over both of them before the fourth set even started.

Once Gruver and Suhr failed to clear 15-5 on their third attempts, LeLeux's spot on the Olympic team was guaranteed.

"I knew that I was clean and that I was an Olympian, so I was freaking out," LeLeux said.

Morgann LeLeux celebrates during the finals of the women's pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

But LeLeux still needed to attempt her third and final vault.

Knowing that and seeing his daughter overcome with emotion, Shane LeLeux hopped over a seat and ran down to field level talk to her, pulling a hamstring in the process.

"I hollered at her, 'Morgann you need to make this bar,' " Shane LeLeux said.

LeLeux refocused and got the crowd involved before starting her run and routine. She repeated her phrase on her run up to the bar.

"One, two, one two three, drop, lift, jump."

"One, two, one two three, drop, lift, jump."

She then cleared 15-5, a personal best, further solidifying her spot on Team USA for the Tokyo Games with Katie Nageotte and eventually Morris. The qualifying round begins on Aug. 2.

"To make that bar was a feeling I've never had before," LeLeux said.

LeLeux was riding on an emotional high.

She hugged family members, signed autographs and took photos with fans. But running around the track with the American flag draped over her back was a particularly special moment.

LeLeux was a U.S. Olympian.

"I am representing obviously Louisiana and New Iberia, but also a full-on country,"  said. "(It's) a country that is such a powerhouse. And to represent this team, that means I'm a powerhouse."


 



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