Canadian pole vaulter Alysha Newman receives new poles fully paid for by Air Canada
Old equipment was destroyed on flight en route to competition in Doha, Qatar
Canadian pole vaulter Alysha Newman received a brand new set of poles from Air Canada on Thursday morning, two weeks to the day her equipment was destroyed on a flight to Doha for a season-opening Diamond League meet.
Newman said the airline covered the cost of the new set of equipment — which, according to the London, Ont., native cost $10,000.
"I was furious at first, but it's behind me now," Newman told CBC Sports. "I'm kind of looking forward to a new beginning with these poles."
"It feels like Christmas."
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Newman was forced to compete with borrowed poles at the Doha meet, but after clearing 4.54 metres at Qatar Sports Club, the 23-year-old missed all three attempts at 4.64 to finish seventh in a field of nine.
Newman voiced her disappointment on Twitter back on May 3.
My heart is broken&so are all my poles thanks to <a href="https://twitter.com/AirCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AirCanada</a> I've put my trust into you as an airline to get my poles & equipment safely to my competitions,spendings thousand of dollars weekly on flights and poles. This is how you treat people’s stuff? It’s shame, you let me down! <a href="https://t.co/IruaznZ2fK">pic.twitter.com/IruaznZ2fK</a>—@alysha_newman94
But a week after Fitzpatrick said the airline had reached out to Newman and arranged to deliver her new equipment.
CBC Sports track and field analyst Anson Henry was with Newman in Bolton, Ont., when she received her poles. He said while Newman was very happy, expectations need to be tempered.
"It's going to take her a little time getting used to them," Henry said.
While Newman competed with borrowed poles delivered to the stadium from a local club in Qatar that are similar to the Carbon Mystic vaulting pole she had used for five years, her coach Doug Wood was back home keeping an eye on his phone while trying to coach at a high school meet in Mississauga, Ont.
"Alysha did great," he told CBC Sports. "She'll probably be frustrated that she didn't jump higher, but I'm really ecstatic. It was a very positive experience after a very negative start. She got three bars [4.24, 4.44, 4.54] on borrowed or loaned poles.
"Alysha is exceptionally talented at making adjustments mid-jump and I respect her competitive spirit. She's a different beast and goes to a place you can only dream of. I've been around her for years and I'm still amazed."
Newman had been using her old poles for five years, even winning Commonwealth Games gold with them back in April.
Doesn’t feel real but it’s so real !!😫 COMMONWEALTH CHAMPION & GAMES RECORD!!!🥇🇨🇦♥️ <a href="https://t.co/ainv7SZFxk">https://t.co/ainv7SZFxk</a> <a href="https://t.co/SMypArjNBs">pic.twitter.com/SMypArjNBs</a>—@alysha_newman94
Breakthrough 2017 season
Wood said he spoke with Newman about the possibility of withdrawing from the Doha meet. He noted Newman is in a good place mentally, physically and technically and didn't want her to risk injury using different poles.
Newman, who matched her personal best of 4.75 to shatter the Games record of 4.62, forged ahead, first clearing 4.24 in Doha before needing all three tries to clear 4.44 and 4.54.
In her breakthrough 2017 season, Newman vaulted 4.60 or more 10 times and cleared 4.70 at the world indoor track and field championships in March.
Wood said Air Canada has been helpful with Newman in the past and put his faith in the airline doing "what is right" in this case.
"I would like to think [Air Canada] wasn't negligent, that it was an accident," he added.
The five-time All-American won't have to wait long before putting the new poles to good use as she's set to compete in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. on Friday May 25.
An attempt to reach an Air Canada spokesperson was unsuccessful.
With files from Doug Harrison at CBC Sports