Pole vaulter Didac Salas the biggest medal hope of the host country at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Barcelona 2012 (10- 15 July) is looking forward to the big event in his hometown Barcelona this summer.
The 18-year-old Youth Olympic champion set the national record in the junior category (5.45m) to become champion at last month’s Spanish Indoor Championships in Sabadell.
With a current outdoor personal best of 5,42m, he has set his goals high for the future: “It is my dream to jump over 6 metres,” he confirmed in an exclusive interview for the Local Organising Committee of Barcelona 2012.
When did you start taking part in Athletics and how did you get into pole vaulting?
As a kid, I started with swimming and playing water polo. When I was ten years old, I had to give up on it because the chlorine caused me a chronic cough. In Athletics, I tried out almost all disciplines, starting with running until I finally got to the Pole Vault. Coach Elisa Poses introduced some kids and me to the discipline and liked the way I jumped. And I thought it was fun, that’s how it all began. Now my coaches are Hans Ruf and Gabriel Martinez.
You became Spanish Pole Vault indoor champion last month with only 18 years. Do you think that 2012 will be your year?
I had a perfect start to the season, which is a big motivation. Setting my indoor personal best in Sabadell to become the national champion in the senior category is a huge achievement. I even set the bar higher (5.56m). I am sure that I can do very well in 2012.
As Youth Olympic champion you already know how it feels to win a gold medal at a big international event. What is your goal for Barcelona 2012?
The World Junior Championships are a very special event for me. I think I have a good chance in my second year as a junior and competing in front of my home crowd will be an amazing feeling. I have grown as an athlete over the past couple of years. At the last World Junior Champs in Moncton I finished fifth (5.05m). The support of my friends and family will play an important role in Barcelona. They can push me very far.
How did it feel to climb the podium at the Youth Olympic Games?
I only remember being really proud. I hope to repeat it one day at an even bigger event.
Who are your rivals this year?
I’m actually not really sure, but there are many top athletes. I think that Thiago da Silva (Brazil), Arnaud Art (Belgium) and Robert Renner (Slovenia) will be hard to beat. Renner won the Youth World Champs in Lille last year. It is definitely going to be a great competition this summer.
Do you look forward to competing at the Olympic Stadium?
It is a great stadium that has hosted many top events such as the Olympic Games in 1992 or the 2010 European Athletics Championships. It is the perfect scenery for the World Junior Championships, especially with the new track that was inaugurated only two years ago for the Europeans.
Have you already competed in the Olympic Stadium?
Yes, although I don’t remember it too well. In 2009 I participated at the Spanish Championships. As youngest athlete I finished last. It was a tough experience. I hope to walk out of the stadium with much better memories after the world junior champs.
What is your goal for the future?
I don’t know yet but I want to jump as high as possible and achieve the best performances at the great championships. It is my dream to jump over 6 metres.
Do you think that your generation can put Spain back on the athletics map in the future?
Our generation will definitely be ready to fight for medals and to achieve great results in the future. We won’t have to look back and envy the great athletes that we had in the past.
Oliver Divljak and Alberto Montenegro for Barcelona 2012 and the IAAF