Grant Rivers has described his record-breaking exploits at the Clemson Tiger Paw at the Clemson University Indoor Complex last weekend as a “true blessing”.
The Bermudian soared to new heights after breaking the national pole vault record that had stood for more than three decades while competing for North Carolina State.
The 23-year-old graduate student cleared the bar at 4.26 metres to obliterate the previous record of 3.86 metres set by Brooke Onley in 1987.
“I used to dream about moments like this when I was growing up,” Rivers told The Royal Gazette. “It truly is a blessing to have broken a record that’s over 30 years old.
“It’s especially special to me because I’ve never had a pole vault coach my entire career, so I’ve really had to fight to learn this event.
“It certainly hasn’t been easy and I’ve had my moments of doubt. In fact, I did not clear a single bar two weeks before during my heptathlon at Texas Tech. I couldn’t seem to find my rhythm.
“But over the years I’ve learnt to stick with it, have a short memory, and keep chasing my dreams. I feel like it’s finally paying off.
“To set a goal and see it come to fruition is such a surreal feeling. I’m grateful to everyone who helped make this possible, especially the people of Bermuda.”
Rivers competes in the decathlon, a combined event consisting of ten events.
“I’m a decathlete who has been pole vaulting since I got to college 5˝ years ago,” he said. “I don’t practise pole vault a lot because I don’t have a coach and I have nine other events I train for.
“The reason I decided to pursue the decathlon is because I wanted to push my body’s limits and see if I could join this exclusive family of ‘world’s greatest athletes’. Moreover, I want to inspire young Bermudians to pick up the decathlon because it’s one of the Olympics most honoured events.
“Since antiquity this event has been regarded as one of the more gruelling and respected feats.
“I believe that Bermuda can jump onto the world stage and build a tradition of great multi-event athletes.
“My ultimate goal is to inspire young people to compete in the decathlon.”
Another goal that Rivers is striving for is to compete at the Olympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo,
“I have a long road ahead of me,” he added. “I believe if I get with the right coach and training partners it can happen.”
Rivers has enjoyed a stellar collegiate career in which he has earned multiple All Atlantic Coast Conference honours.
He also holds the record in the heptathlon at North Carolina State and is ranked among the top ten in the school’s history in the decathlon.