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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Soaring for success

Heather Abadie leads A&M, nation in pole vault
Freshman+Heather+Abadie+stalls+out+during+the+pole+vaulting+competition+at+the+SEC+Indoor+Track+and+Field+Championship+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+26%2C+2022.
Photo by Robert O’Brien
Freshman Heather Abadie stalls out during the pole vaulting competition at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championship on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

Supported by an athletic family background, junior Heather Abadie has continued to soar toward her ultimate Olympic goal as she sits atop Texas A&M track and field’s all-time performer lists and among the top-five U.S. and top-100 world rankings of female pole vaulters.

Elite facilities influenced Abadie’s decision to choose A&M over home-state LSU. “Blown away” during her A&M campus visit, Abadie noted she is following in her mother’s footsteps – 1992 Olympian Donalda Duprey-Abadie – in more ways than one. A&M coach Pat Henry coached Donalda at LSU as a member of the track and field team from 1989-1991. Heather also noted that she decided to try the pole vault in high school at her mother’s invitation.

Henry likes to occasionally joke about having coached her mom, Heather said.

“But he’s also like, your mother has done this,” Heather said. “Like, you can do it too. He’s using it as a positive to help me succeed in the future.”

Since arriving at A&M in 2021, Abadie has won her first SEC Championship title during the 2024 indoor season and took silver in the 2023 SEC Outdoor Championship. She currently holds the A&M record in the women’s pole vault after her 4.36-meter leap at the 44 Farms Team Invitational in April. She also holds the No. 1 spot on the A&M all-time performer list in the indoor and outdoor women’s pole vault.

Heather said her goal is to represent Canada at the Olympics as a national team member, just like her mother.

“She’s pretty much my goal – to be her, and go to the Olympics – and compete for Canada like she did,” Heather said.

The first benchmark is to clear 14 feet consistently throughout the season, Abadie said, and to set personal records at every meet.

“So this was quite one of my goals that I wanted, and knowing that my name is on the board,” Abadie said. “It’s just one step closer to getting to my ultimate goal, which is going to the Olympics and becoming pro.”

Abadie’s pole vault career launched her freshman year at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After starting in gymnastics and advancing to Level 8, Abadie said that after a track meet, her mother invited her and some friends to try the pole vault. It stuck.

Abadie was named Gatorade Louisiana Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2019-20, ranking No. 1 in Louisiana and No. 9 in the nation in pole vault. She won the state championship in outdoor pole vault as a sophomore and indoor in her junior and senior years. She earned a bronze medal as a member of the Canadian national team in the 2021-22 Under-20 World Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, and finished eighth in the 2022 World Athletics Championship pole vault.

Heather said she likes to travel, especially when she has free time outside of track. Her favorite destination is Ontario, Canada, where her grandpa lived.

There are more bars to clear before Heather has free time. The SEC Outdoor Championship is scheduled for May 9-11 at Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Youngchan Kang is a journalism sophomore and contributed this article from the course JOUR 359, Reporting Sports, to The Battalion.

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