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US High Jumper Amy Acuff Looks Forward to More Medals - 2003-08-27


Amy Acuff has a lot going on in her life. In addition to her endeavors on the track, the American high jumper is studying toward a degree in medicine and does some modeling on the side.

Though Amy Acuff has been on the national athletics scene for years, it was not until 2001 when she established herself among the world's elite high jumpers. The 28-year-old Texan won her first U.S. indoor title that year, and went on to place fourth in the Worlds.

The two-time American Olympian and four-time U.S. outdoor champion comes to Paris following a personal best jump of 2.01 meters in Zurich, the top jump by an American since 1998. Acuff told VOA Sports she has high expectations in Paris.

"My season has been going really, really well and I will be completely disappointed if I don't get a medal," she said. "If I jump over two meters and I do not get a medal, then I can go home and say 'OK, well, I did my best.' But it has been going so well I really expect to jump into the medal round."

Acuff also says she feels it is an advantage to be competing as a member of the historically successful United States team.

"Everybody has gold medals and championships and, you know, for me, I feel like I am overshadowed and it takes a lot of pressure off me," she said. "A lot of people are not focusing on me and expecting things."

Even so, Amy has a good idea of what it will take to stand on the top of the podium in the women's high jump.

"I think 2.01, 2.04 [meters] is going to be the height that wins the gold medal," she said.

But there is a lot more to Amy Acuff than her sport. She is in a four-year program in Austin, Texas, working toward becoming a licensed acupuncturist and doctor in Oriental Medicine. She also models on the side, having appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Maxim and many others. And the night before leaving the U.S. for Europe, she became engaged.

"It was kind of sad, because it is like, 'OK, bye for a month and a half.' But it will be exciting when I get back and there is a lot to plan," said the high jumper.

Qualifying for the women's high jump gets under way Thursday, with the finals set for Sunday.