One World-Famous Photo That Turned This Pole Vaulter's Life Upside Down

2019-08-03 Stories

This article was originally published on our site: sportoport.com

If you know anything about pole vaulting, then you must have heard about Allison Stokke numerous times. She’s one of the biggest names in this type of sport, but she has also gained immense popularity for a different reason.

Allison was slowly building her sports career, but then something unexpected happened. Someone took a photo during a pole vaulting competition and changed the girl’s life for good. Being just in her teens at the time this happened, the pole vaulter became a world-famous legend, but not for her sports skills.

The girl was devoured by the world of Internet stardom and it had nothing to do with her true calling. Naturally, she didn’t know how to cope with it, and neither did her family. Just one picture turned her whole life upside down!


Just an Athlete Like Many Others

Allison was living an ordinary life like most teenagers of her age, but with one big difference – she was into sports and has dedicated her whole life to getting better at pole vaulting.

Nevertheless, she wasn’t unique in her lifestyle as there were many young athletes in various types of sports just like her – striving to become somebody and make a name for themselves.

It’s a tough lifestyle, but Allison enjoyed every bit of it. She’s already broken a few records by 2008 and was slowly becoming more famous with each passing year. But it was due to one accidental picture that she became a world-known sensation. And it wasn’t about her pole vaulting prowess!


Finding Her True Passion

Allison was born into the family of athletes in 1989. While most kids don’t know what they want to do in life because they are very young, Allison was pretty sure about her passion from the very beginning. She has been surrounded by all kinds of sports from the early childhood and fell in love with it when she was just a kid.

She spent lots of time with her older brother, who was an accomplished gymnast taking part in competitions all over the world.  At first, the girl was drawn to gymnastics as well, but quickly realized it wasn’t her cup of tea.

She wanted to do some kind of sport, but didn’t know what suited her best. That’s when she started experimenting with different sports, trying to figure out her true passion.


The Perfect Fit

The girl didn’t have to look for her favourite kind of sport for a long time – as soon as she picked up the pole and tried running with it, she knew that was it, the one thing she enjoyed doing the most. Running towards the bar gave her a sense of freedom like nothing else. It felt like she was flying!

The girl quickly realized she had what it takes to become a pro athlete and started training as hard as she could. All her efforts paid off almost immediately!

With her persistence, brilliant physique, and amazing talent, the sportswoman soon won the US title, becoming one of the youngest pole vaulters not only in the country, but in the world as well. Just imagine yourself becoming a pro athlete at the age of 15 – but Allison was at exactly that age when she jumped 12.5 inches high!


Unexpected Obstacle

The girl has just started her pole vaulting career and spend most of her time training and preparing for competitions.  Just like her brother, she quickly developed the passion for a rigorous training regime.

But then, a sudden obstacle came in her way – Allison, being just a high school student training to become a pole vaulter, broke her leg. It was the most devastating experience ever!

She has just started her training and was getting better with each passing month. It seemed that nothing could stop her! This unexpected obstacle frustrated the young pole vaulter more than anything she has experienced before.


Could She Really Do This?

Allison was still in her teens and we all know that young bodies recover fast. Even a broken leg will heal faster, especially if you give it proper treatment and let it rest for as long as it needs.

The young sportswoman was restless, it seemed like her leg was taking forever to heal! For a young athlete it was an unbearable experience as she had just started her career as a pole vaulter. Her family was the most supportive during these tumultuous times.

The doctors were amazed at how was Allison’s leg was healing itself – maybe it was her willpower that was speeding the whole process? But while she couldn’t train and had some time to think, the girl realized that there was nothing else she would like to do in this world. She was born to do sports!


She Had It in Her

Allison knew that she has finally found the one thing that she wanted to do in life – it was definitely her biggest passion! After getting back on her two feet, nothing could stop her from becoming great at pole vaulting. She had already broken a few records, but that was only the beginning of her beautiful path.

The girl started training even harder and soon broke her own record, jumping 12 feet 8 inches high back in 2004. Of course, she didn’t stop there and proceeded with her rigorous training regime.

In 2005, just a year later after breaking her very own record, she jumped even higher than before – 13 feet 5 inches! That’s a ridiculous height for most people, but for Allison it was just another milestone on her way to stardom.


Getting Even Better

In her further years of school and studying Allison Stokke managed to divide her attention between learning new things and training to become a pro pole vaulter. It wasn’t easy, but she had her mind set on success.

In her senior years, the sportswoman already knew that she would become a world class pole vaulter and decided to do her best to reach all her goals. She was persistent and didn’t want to stop no matter what!

Naturally, it all paid off once again and the very same year the sportswoman jumped as high as 13 feet 6 ¾ inches, becoming an even more successful pole vaulter. And if you think that’s no big deal, just imagine this – it’s double the height of a regular basketball player, and we all know how tall they can get.


So How Does One Train to Become a Pole Vaulter?

Pole vaulting demands the athletes to be in perfect shape and that means not only exercising to build core strength, but also lots of stretching, cardio, and a nearly perfect diet. You need to be both light, strong, and flexible to be a great pole vaulter!

Allison started changing her whole lifestyle to make it suitable for pole vaulting and many of the foods she liked so much had to go as well. She needed a proper diet that would keep her strong and agile – with lots of protein, healthy snacks, healthy carbs, and vegetables.

Her past gymnastics training was also useful as pole vaulting warm-ups use lots of gymnastics elements. Allison also needed to learn how to climb a rope to develop some core strength, not to mention all the special take-off and planting techniques used by pole vaulters.


The Year Everything Changed

It was year 2007, Allison was taking part in yet another pole vaulting event, doing her best to prove that she’s become better and can build a brilliant career for herself. There was a sports photographer who also visited that same tournament – little did he know that he would soon take a photo that would change someone’s life forever.

The photographer clicked his camera and created a picture that would become legendary for years to come. Allison didn’t know it yet, but that very photo would soon change not only her life, but also the lives of all the people around her. But most importantly, it would even influence her pole vaulting career.

The picture that was created that day got to the Internet and was posted at a shady site, where male netizens would gather to look at photos of beautiful women, exchanging their opinions about those ladies in a very unpleasant manner.


The Unwanted Fame

As soon as the pole vaulter’s photo got onto that site, it got hundreds of comments and most of them were demeaning and seedy. No one was talking about her athletic prowess or her amazing accomplishments in sports – it was just about her appearance!

Suddenly, the very same photo was spreading across all platforms like fire and it was impossible to stop it. Allison Stokke was going viral, but for all the wrong reasons.

Allison couldn’t believe her eyes. One day she was a rising sports star with hundreds of competitions waiting ahead of her, and the other day she woke up an Internet legend of the worst kind. Her family members couldn't believe it either.


She was Too Young for All of This

The situation with the photo of the young athlete was spiraling out of control and if you know anything about Internet, then you realize that there was nothing anyone could have done about it. The photographer who took the infamous shot couldn’t believe his eyes either. The picture was everywhere on the web!

Suddenly, Allison had a huge following being born out of nowhere with hundreds of her fan pages emerging every day. Those fan pages started collecting more of her photos with even more men coming to make comments about her appearance.

Some of those men seriously thought they were in love and continued sharing her photos with as many other people as possible. This was definitely not the type of fame the girl wanted to experience as she was working so hard to become a pro pole vaulter!


It All Went Out of Control

Soon enough Allison’s name became known not only in her home country, but all over the world. Internet knows no boundaries, so her fame was reaching global proportions – all due to one accidental photo of her pole vaulting competition.

Internet wasn’t the only place she was talked about – soon even newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post were making stories about her unexpected Internet fame.

News stations didn’t want to lose the opportunity to talk about the new Internet sensation either, so the reports kept on coming in, making her fame grow exponentially. Allison was talked about in The UK, in Europe, and even on Australian TV.


The Girl was Beyond Frustrated

Can you imagine what it was like for a 17-year-old girl to become an Internet sensation overnight – and not for her sport career, but for her good looks? This situation was overshadowing all of her accomplishments, threatening to destroy the career she was building so hard all these years.

Allison was trying to take matters into her own hands, but it was impossible to control the Internet. She was getting thousands of calls and emails every day – she even had to hire a special manager to deal with all of it!

However, there was one more thing the girl had to be aware of and it wasn’t just the fame – some people weren’t just interested in seeing her photos, they wanted to get to know her in person. Yes, we’re talking about stalkers.


The Girl Felt Invisible

How can someone be invisible all the while being famous all across the globe? Allison Stokke definitely knows the answer to that. Everyone looked at her photos, but everything they saw was her trained physique.

Even BBC made a report about her unexpected fame and how it all spiraled out of control, but even the British channel didn’t mention anything about her professional pole vaulting career.

In one interview, Allison confessed that she felt truly invisible. Everything the world was talking about was her body, but she was so much more than that!


She was Doing Her Best

Allison was doing her best to divert the public attention from the photo that has been misused so many times. Her manager advised her to organize an interview that would be strictly about sports and how to become a pro pole vaulter.

The sportswoman approached a famous news outlet and recorded an interview in which she shared tips and tricks for people interested in pole vaulting, as well as for women who are interested in going pro.

Unfortunately, the interview didn’t have the desired effect. It was uploaded to YouTube, but in the comment section there were only comments about her appearance and physique.


But She wasn’t Alone

It would be impossible for one girl to cope with all this stress and thousands of people trying to get her attention. But what could she do? Lucky for Allison, her father, Allan, was a certified lawyer, who knew a thing or two about the ways he could protect his daughter.

Her father spent most of his free time going through all the comments on numerous websites as well as YouTube channels to see if any of the comments were crossing the line.

If some comments were legally inappropriate, he could immediately tell if the commenter wasn’t just an admirer, like many, or a person who was probably planning to stalk Allison, whether online or in real life. Still, Allison’s reputation as a sportswoman was almost ruined despite his best efforts.


A Lesson to Everyone

While Allison’s situation wasn’t getting any better, there was some light in the end of the tunnel. CBS decided to showcase her situation as an example of how easily young sportswomen can be mistreated not only by their fans, but also by mass media as a whole.

CBS released a number of educational newscasts that highlighted the dangers of the Internet and social media platforms in relation to vulnerable young women, who are made public figures without their consent.

In this day and age, anyone can become the centre of unwanted attention, even people who don’t appear on public at all. It is important to bring more awareness to how all those people feel about becoming such ‘stars’.


The Sportswoman was Very Scared

Allison, her manager, and her father did their best to soften the whole situation, but the photo was still out there, roaming the web and gaining even more followers.

To make matter even worse, the sportswoman herself started feeling insecure about her well-being. With all the stalkers out there, she simply didn’t know whether she was safe just going out about her everyday business.

It came to the point that she was scared to visit pole vaulting competitions because there was always a huge crowd of fans who wanted to get close to her. She didn’t even feel safe inside her own home – she had to lock all the windows and doors to make sure no one could get in while she was sleeping.


But What About Her Talent?

Needless to say, this whole thing took a huge toll on Allison’s mental health and overall well-being. Her life was turned upside down and most of all she was upset that this sudden fame completely overshadowed what she was born to do – pole vaulting.

It seemed that all her work  over the last decade was for nothing because everything people were talking about now was that one photo and how she got famous due to her physique and beautiful body. But that wasn’t true!

Allison was feeling very down and it seemed that this thing would last forever. In 2010, if you tried Googling her name, you’d end up with hundreds of links to various news and websites, but none of them would be about pole vaulting and her brilliant career as a sportswoman.


Going to College

Things quieted down a bit as soon as the young woman went to college. She was still that famous pole vaulter, but the TV shows, news companies, and various magazines were already over that. They needed something new to talk about!

Allison Stokke earned a full athletic scholarship and started her studies, remaining in California so she could still be close to her friends and family members. Naturally, she continued building her pole vaulting career as that was everything she has ever dreamt about.

Those years were relatively peaceful for the sportswoman – she rarely appeared on social media and mostly kept to herself. She felt relieved to get out of the limelight and lead an ordinary life.


New Beginnings

Finally, Allison could focus on her studies and a proper training regime that would help her build an even stronger body, allowing to participate in more pole vaulting competitions. After all, that was her biggest dream.

If you think that it is hard to be successful in studying and keep building a career in pole vaulting at the same time – well, you are right. But somehow the young athlete managed to do both! She excelled in sociology and got a masters degree, all the while training to become better at her favourite sport.

Needless to say, Allison Stokke soon jumped even higher than all her previous heights, entering the list of top 10 most successful pole vaulters in the country.


The Biggest Dream Ever

As the sportswoman was becoming a better pole vaulter with each passing year, she started dreaming big. Just like many athletes before her and thousands of athletes that came after her, she wanted to take part in the Olympics.

Allison graduated from college and started training like never before. Not only did she need to set a new personal high score, but she also needed to be good enough to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The sportswoman fully focused on reaching her goals, putting all her time and effort into becoming better, and it soon paid off – she jumped an incredible height of 14 feet and 3 ½ inches! But would that be enough for the Olympic Games?


The Disappointment was Too Much

It was the year 2012 and London Olympics were approaching fast. Just like dozens other athletes, Allison wanted to represent the United States and, hopefully, bring home a medal. It was the competition of a lifetime!

Sadly, things didn’t quite work out for the sportswoman. Although she has jumped 14 feet high before, she wasn’t able to cover the same height this time and qualify for the Olympics. It was a miss for her and a dozen of other contenders, who had the same dream as her.

Was it the stress of the competition or the past events that have put so much pressure on her, leading to a failure? We don’t know, but for Allison the dream of getting into the Olympic Games was over.


Trying Out Something New

The sportswoman realized that she couldn’t dwell on past failures for too long – she had to move on and see what else life had in store for her. Being a pole vaulter was her calling, but the Olympic Games weren’t the only thing she could do in her life. There were other options!

That’s when she decided to try out some modelling for various sports brands that have been approaching her for years. Allison didn’t like being in the limelight much, but it was different this time – working with professional photographers for a sports brand was a unique experience and, needless to say, she succeeded once again.

In 2015, the sportswoman took a short break from pole vaulting and focused on her career as a sports model, working with huge brands like Nike and Athleta.


Working with GoPro

GoPro is one of the most famous action camera brands in the world, so when Allison was approached with an offer to work with the company, she was on cloud nine. By that time she was already a famous sports model, so that didn’t really come as a surprise to anyone.

But really, how many people get to work with GoPro on a project? The company wanted to showcase pole vaulting like never before, revealing what it looks and feels like from different camera angles.

Together they produced a brilliant short video that kept all the viewers mesmerized with Allison Stokke’s talent and brilliant pole vaulting technique. She was really one of the best!


What’s Next?

The year 2016 brought Allison even more modelling work. Although she was still a sportswoman and enjoyed pole vaulting most of all, it was fun to do something different for a change. And why not? She was in great shape and everyone could appreciate it.

After working with GoPro, the pole vaulter had a job with Uniqlo, a famous brand of clothing focusing mostly on wearable sports designs and casualwear.

Uniqlo released numerous photos of the pole vaulter and a video showcasing her wearing their newest fitness collection while running along the beach. Needless to say, that video was a huge success!


Time for Some Romance

All these years Allison Stokke has been focusing on her studies and building a career as a sportswoman, but it was time to build something entirely different. Internet was taken by storm once again, but this time it wasn’t about her pole vaulting or some viral photo.

In 2016, there was a rumour that Allison and Rickie Fowler started dating. Was it true? All fans of the pole vaulter were eager to know the details and whether the two were a couple or not.

The couple has been spotted together numerous times, sharing photos of each other on their Instagram accounts and other social media platforms. But that didn’t really prove anything yet.


Something in Common

If you’re wondering about Rickie Fowler and his background, then you should know that his is a professional golfer. It seems that sports people get along with other sports stars, so Allison and Rickie Fowler became good friends, and soon their relationship evolved.

Rickie Fowler hasn’t won any major competitions yet, but he is already known all over the world. He has taken part in 2016 Olympics, which means he’s already an accomplished golfer and a professional. Now it’s only a matter of time when he wins some major price!

We can easily understand how two sports professionals could get together, but there’s one more thing the two of them have in common – viral photos.


Rickie Fowler’s Story

Of course, Rickie Fowler’s story is different from Allison Stokke’s as he wasn’t exploited the way she was. Becoming a 17-year-old Internet star for all the wrong reasons has taken its toll on the pole vaulter.

Rickie Fowler’s story is much more light-hearted – when his golf team won the Ryder Cup after losing for many-many years, there was a celebration and all his teammates brought their girlfriends along. Rickie Fowler was the only one without a partner!

That’s why when everyone was hugging and kissing their girlfriends for a memorable photo in front of the camera, Rickie Fowler was the only odd one out. He stood out too much! The photo was hilarious and it quickly became one of the Internet’s favourites.


Finally, the Cat was Out of the Bag

While all the fans were wondering about Rickie Fowler’s relationship with the pole vaulter, the couple was still keeping it a secret. None of them liked to be in the limelight too much!

The couple didn't share any details about their private lives, that’s why the one who let the cat of the bag was Rickie’s teammate, Jason Day. There was a press conference and the golfer wasn’t present there, that’s why Jason Day joked that he must be preoccupied with his other boyfriend-ish duties.

And just like that, everyone suddenly found out that Rickie Fowler, indeed, had a girlfriend and it was obvious that Allison was his not-so-secret partner.


Everyone Felt Relieved

As soon as the secret was out both Allison and Rickie sighed with relief. They didn’t have to hide anymore, so they could travel around together without hiding their identities, all the while posting photos of them together on Instagram.

Needless to say, all their fans were relieved even more! They were happy to see their favourite couple go on spectacular vacations, visit exotic countries, and spend all the holidays together. It was like a dream come true for them!

The couple has become more open not only about their relationship, but also about everything they did together. Some of that fear of publicity must have been cured along the way!


Rickie’s #1 Fan

Allison turned into Rickie Fowler’s #1 fan and everyone was on cloud nine to see her visit all his tournaments and golf competitions. She was taking a break from pole vaulting, so she could spend some time building her new relationship with the pro golfer.

Still, not everyone was so happy about Rickie’s new girlfriend following him around and ‘distracting’ him from his professional goals. Rickie Fowler’s coach was sure that this new relationship was bad for his career and even urged the player to break up with Allison and focus solely on golfing.

We all know that the golfer didn’t listen to him and he was right to do so! The golf player managed to build a happy relationship with his girlfriend and continued playing professional golf. Some believe that he even became a better player after getting together with Allison!


Life Goes on

As for the pole vaulter, while she was happy to be in a relationship with Rickie Fowler, she has also decided to get back into the world of professional pole vaulting. After all, that was her one and only true calling!

You can’t simply give up on your dreams after one failure – you need to get up, rest, and then try one more time. Allison is definitely not the one to give up so easily, so she went back to training and preparing to enter the Olympic Games competition one more time.

Allison got herself a new coach and still participates in pole vaulting competitions. Once a sports star, always a sports star!