Greenville, Rio, and Beyond: Sandi Morris
If You Only Have 60 Seconds…
- Sandi Morris is a medal-winning Olympian from Greenville, SC
- Sandi reflects on her time at the Olympics as one of the most surreal moments of her life
- The key to Sandi’s success? Never give up on your dreams
As I approached Fleet Feet Sports, I felt the intimidation. Typically, when I interview someone, I don’t feel any sort of intimidation. However, I was about to have a conversation with Sandi Morris. Sandi is part of an elite group. She is an Olympian. Not only an Olympian but a silver medal Olympian. Heck, I get winded walking up the stairs sometimes. Once inside, I was introduced to Sandi. The first thing I noticed was that she was INCREDIBLY fit. I am sure I instinctively sucked my gut in and stood up a little straighter to try to feel a little more adequate.
The second thing I noticed was Sandi’s warm, inviting smile. Yes she was an Olympian, and yes, she could probably snap me in half (not that she would), but she was extremely approachable. As I sat down with Sandi, on a bench used to try on running shoes, I was taken by how…normal she was. She didn’t put on airs about being in the Olympics.
I remember stepping out on the track with all of the lights flashing. I had to keep telling myself ‘You belong here. Own it.’
“They [the Olympics] are exactly how you would expect — they are as amazing as you would think. It was surreal. My favorite thing about the experience was the Olympic Village. I was there for three weeks. It was such a great experience, walking among athletes from different countries who participated in various sports. Just to get to meet them and sit down with them. We would be wearing jerseys from all over the world and be like, ‘What sport are you in?’.”
It was apparent that she was humbled by the opportunity. “The opening ceremony was mind-blowing. I remember stepping out on the track with all of the lights flashing. I had to keep telling myself ‘You belong here. Own it.’ I always wanted to be an Olympian, I just never knew what it would be in.”
From here, the conversation moved to what inspired her to try pole vaulting in the first place. “Both of my parents were track athletes. I have actually been on a track team since I was seven. I always loved to race other kids, it was a competitive passion of mine. I was in 8th grade when a coach saw me jumping hurdles and told my dad I would be great at pole vaulting.”
One thing that surprised me, and I think most people would be surprised to know, is the amount of track and field opportunities there are in the area. “There are a number of camps and clinics. My coach, Rusty Shealy, has camps in Columbia, SC. He used to drive to Greenville High to coach me. My parents did everything they could to get me in the hands of the right coaches.”
Sandi has a local connection. She was raised in Greenville and went to Greenville High School. She encourages kids to start young and to follow their passions. “I definitely say get on the internet and find a good coach. I know not everybody has the same opportunities as I did. These days there are so many tools on the internet, [such as] videos on the techniques, that kids can teach themselves. You have to want it and go out of your way to make it happen.”
Despite her drive, Sandi didn’t always see herself as an Olympic pole vaulter. “If I weren’t doing this, I would be doing something either in journalism or with animals. I was a broadcast journalism major. Granted, if you had asked me at six, I would have said ‘dolphin trainer.’” She “dolphinitely” made the right choice.
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