For every track and field athlete, the ultimate dream is to represent your country at the Olympics. Pole-vaulter Darren Niedermeyer is no different. Next week at the U.S. Olympic Trials, he will try to jump the Olympic A standard and get into the top three to make Team USA.
Niedermeyer, who trains out of Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., with Bob Cervenka, has been pole-vaulting for 15 years. Unsuccessful at the last trials before the Beijing Games, Niedermeyer is all the more determined to make the grade this time round.
At 6’5 ½” and 203 lbs, Niedermeyer is long and lean, but that was not always quite the case. He dropped 25 lbs. after graduating from the University of Wisconsin seven years ago by modifying his training, and shedding that weight has enabled him to jump considerably higher.
We caught up with Niedermeyer, who has been sponsored by USANA since 2007, to talk about this and much more.
M&F: How are your preparations going?
DN: My practices have been going really well. I’ve jumped the Olympic B standard and I know I am ready for it. My personal best (5.71½m) is pretty much the A Standard (5.72m), so I know I can do it. Pole-vaulting is all about speed, and my speed is great right now.
M&F: Where do you rank in terms of the competition?
Right now the Olympic trials are wide open, there are some old guys jumping well and some young guys jumping real well. I am right in the middle somewhere, right in the mix like everyone else.
M&F: You have tweeted that you are a big fan of Cross Fit training. Why does it work for you?
DN: Cross-Fit training with Olympic weights from deadlift to snatch to clean and jerk – that’s the meat and potatoes of my training. I do a lot of lower body explosive lifts with a lot of pull-push lifts for upper body, and we do a lot of gymnastics, rings and bar for when you are in the air.
M&F: You dropped some serious weight after you left college. What prompted that?
DN: I had a lot of slow-twitch muscle because I was doing an excessive amount of squats and single leg squats. In college, I never got into explosive lifting. I never got into cranes or hang cleans and a lot of other faster twitch movements. Once I started doing more of them I started losing weight. By then I started to jump way better.