After establishing a personal best mark of 2.0 metersin 2019, high jumper Vashti Cunningham is ready to raise the bar. First stop: 2.02 meterswould set a new American women’s record. Tomorrow, the world: the women’s world record in the discipline, at 2.09 meters, has stood since Bulgarian jumper Stefka Kostadinova’s triumph way back in 1987.
Coached by her father, former NFL quarterback (and current Las Vegas Raiders Team Chaplain) Randall Cunningham, she burst onto the international track and field scene in 2015 with a win at the Pan American Junior Championships, clearing 1.96 meters. In 2016 she won the World Indoor Championships at 1.96 meters and the U.S.A. Indoor Track and Field Championships at 1.99 meters (the current American Junior record), and finished 2nd at the U.S. Olympic Trials at 1.97 meters. She finished 13thin her Olympic debut in Rio in 2016 (at age 18, she was the youngest U.S. Track and Field athlete to make theteam since 1980) and has been on a rampage ever since. She turned pro in 2016, declining college scholarships in both volleyball and track and field to accept an offer from Nike.
She attributes her success to her dad’s coaching; her years of ballet study with her mom, former Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerina Felicity de Jager Cunningham; her God-given natural abilities and physique (she’s a lithe 6’1”), and her lifelong determination to keep up with her older brother Randall Cunningham Jr., also a star high jumper. Cunningham balances her athletic career with passions for fashion design, photography, and modeling.
TOP 5 CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
- Feb. 7, 2021: Matched her personal best high jump, 2.0 meters, at American Track League#3,Fayetteville, AR. “It was big for me to hit my personal best this early in the season.”
- 2019: 3rd place, Doha World Championships, 2.0 meters, Doha, Qatar.
- June 30, 2019: 2ndplace, 45thannual Prefontaine Classic, 2.0 meters, Palo Alto, California.
- 2016: 1st place, U.S. IndoorTrack & Field Championships, 1.99 meters, establishing a new World Junior Record(surpassed in 2019 by Yaroslava Mahuchikh at 2.04 meters)that is the current American Junior Record.
- 2016: 1st place, World Indoor Track & Field Championships, 1.96 meters, Portland, Oregon
- February 7, 2021: 1st place, American TrackLeague #3, Fayetteville, AR, 2.0 meters.
- January 24, 2021: 1st place American Track League #1, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 1.90 meters
- June 18-20, 2021: U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field, University of Oregon.
- August 5-7, 2021: Women’s High Jump at Tokyo Olympics.