Track & field athlete Vashti Cunningham speaks to HollywoodLife about her prep process for the Tokyo Olympics & the ‘good pressure’ of coming from a family of famous athletes.
Track and field athlete Vashti Cunningham won’t let any hurdles obstruct her path to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The high jumper, 23, recently spoke to HollywoodLife about her preparation process for the upcoming summer games, the “good pressure” of coming from a family of famous athletes, and more ahead of the start of the international multi-sport event on July 23.
Vashti’s training regimen these last few months? Avoiding illness amid a global heath crisis, obviously. “I think the one thing I know I am going to change when I get closer to the Olympics is who I surround myself with,” the athlete told HL. “Maybe not who but I am going to be narrowing down who I am around everyday 100 percent, because I am not going to risk getting sick or being around people who are sick and have to miss an opportunity.”
“It is just getting to a point of solitude before I go,” Vashti explained. The athlete made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics at the age of 18. With another go in Tokyo on the horizon, the high jumper — the youngest track and field star to qualify for the games since 1980, by the way, per her bio — has her eye on a medal. “I’m definitely really excited and a little bit anxious, but more focused that I have ever been,” she said. “Focused on training, focused on mentally keeping myself in a good space and physically keeping my self healthy.”
The formidable field star, who has three World Championship medals (one gold, one silver, and one bronze), is coached by her famous father Randall Cunningham, the former football quarterback who played in the NFL, primarily with the Philadelphia Eagles. (Yes, this means she is also the niece of Sam Cunningham, the former NFL football fullback who played for the New England Patriots.)
While coming from a family of elite athletes can be daunting for some, Vashti told HL that she welcomes the “good” pressure. “It kind of puts a good pressure on me,” she said. “I really like everyone around me to be on the same level and to elevate each other, so it is not just me accepting to be the only professional child in my family.” Vashti added, “It is more of a positive pressure: ‘I am boosting you and you are boosting me and we are going to keep motivating each other and be competitive with each other and pushing ourselves to the limits and seeing how God wants to bless us.'”
“I am really thankful for all the accomplishments that my family has had before me and [the ones] they will have after,” Vashti continued. “Because that will give me more lessons to learn from and more insight when I come to certain situations.” As for Vashti’s goals post-Olympics, the photography enthusiast revealed: “My biggest dream is to be a National Geographic photographer. I want people to know that; that is a dream of mine when I am done with the career God has blessed me with so far.”
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.