Daughter of Randall Cunningham, Vashti, Wins World Title in High Jump

21Vashti

PORTLAND, Ore. — Teenager Vashti Cunningham’s to-do list includes prom, a trip to Disneyland and graduation.

 Turning pro and making the American team in the high jump for the Rio Olympics rank pretty high up there, too.

The daughter of longtime NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham may even be one of the favorites this summer, especially after winning gold at the world indoor track and field championships on Sunday.

“I’m excited on the inside and keeping it calm on the outside,” said Cunningham, who cleared 6 feet, 5 inches to become the youngest female ever to capture a title at world indoors. “It means a lot to be the world champion this young. I did not think that I would not be here right now at 18 years old.”

This is the latest honor in the rapid rise of Cunningham, who set the American high school record in the event at the U.S. indoor championship last weekend.Randall Cunningham, who is also his daughter’s coach, leaped to his feet when she was pronounced the winner — along with the rest of the crowd at the Portland Convention Center.

“The people have been so supportive of her,” Randall Cunningham said in a phone interview afterward. “Vashti has never had people clap when she’s about to jump. And they know exactly when to clap. They’re like the Seattle Seahawks — the 12th man.”

The United States finished the event with a record 23 medals, including 13 golds, in a championship that didn’t include Russia, which was absent because of pending doping charges.

Just like the week before at nationals, Cunningham stole the show. Ruth Beitia of Spain, who is 18 years older than Cunningham, claimed the silver and Kamila Licwinko of Poland finished third.

Afterward, Cunningham announced she is strongly leaning toward going pro instead of college. She’ll now try to make the U.S. team for the Olympics this summer in Brazil.

But first she has to graduate from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas — and no, her new title doesn’t get her excused from class.

“She has to go back to school tomorrow,” her father said.

-Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press

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