As a seventh-grader, Vera Neuenswander was watching when the United States' Stacy Dragila won the first Olympic gold medal in the women's pole vault in 2000 at Sydney, Australia.
"I was hooked from that moment," Vera said. "Lucky for me, I was going into my ... first year for track and field. "I thought, "Pole vault, here I come!'"
Now a graduate and All-American from the University of Indiana, Neuenswander hopes that Olympic experience will be hers at the August London games. Ranked 12th in the nation currently, Neuenswander has postponed her education career to adequately prepare for the USA National Championships in June in Eugene, Ore., which will decide the three female pole vaulters to represent the country at the 2012 Olympics.
To get there, she hopes to have help from her hometown. This winter, she sent a letter to her long-time supporters updating them on her training and asking for both prayers and financial support.
"Vera is a great example of what talent, hard work and effort can do," said Dennis Licklider, her Jefferson City High School coach.