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“Whenever I go back to Connecticut after visiting my family, my first priority is always visiting them.” Gymnastics transcends physical toughness; there is a level of mental grit required of young athletes that is hard to find in other sports. Let’s face it, running full speed toward a stationary object or flying mid-air between uneven bars isn’t for the faint of heart. Although she was properly trained and was always in tune with her body, Bone, like all athletes, was susceptible to injuries. She sustained a handful of concussions throughout her gymnastics career wherein the third one brought the talented gymnast news she never imagined she’d hear. “‘Robin, it is not safe for you to return back to gymnastics.’ It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized my doctor wasn’t saying I could return back to gymnastics tomorrow, two weeks from now, or even months from now; he meant ever,” she recalls. “It’s really hard to describe what I was feeling in the moment because I was just empty.” After mourning the loss of gymnastics day in and day out, Bone’s parents decided to intervene, imparting a sentiment — gymnastics isn’t who you are, but what you did — that continues to resonate with the now-24-year-old. She decided to take up track and field in high school at the encouragement of her friends. On the first day of practice, her coach informed her that gymnasts make great pole vaulters. And just like that, pole vaulting filled a void that had been missing. Per her doctor’s request, she could only participate if she wore a helmet. Bone, unphased by what people thought, proudly wore her helmet during practices and invitationals. She even gave it that gymnastics sparkle, adding Swarovski crystals in the shape of a Canadian maple leaf with her last name underneath. Admittedly, it was hard for the high schooler to go from being a state champion gymnast to nearing last in all her pole vault competitions. She considered pursuing things that brought her immediate

successes in track and field, like hurdles, long jump and triple jump. It wasn’t until she attended an invitational with some of Connecticut’s top vaulters that she realized she was doing exactly what she was meant to. “I finished close to last at the invitational and at one point I was standing in line behind some of the best vaulters at a concession stand. Wanting to befriend them, I waited for the right moment to interject in their conversation. That’s when I heard them talking about me, ‘the girl with the helmet,’ saying things like ‘She was so bad,’ ‘I would pay to watch her vault’ and ‘Her helmet is so stupid.’” Like a match striking flame, Bone used the vaulters’ hurtful words as fuel to succeed. She turned to YouTube videos and books all about the sport. She studied other vaulters who were better than her, mirroring their movements and methods during practices. Like the relentless toddler that once climbed everything, Bone was relentless at learning how to be the best pole vaulter possible. “When those girls were making fun of me, I remember thinking, ‘Okay, you think you know helmet girl? Well, I will show you Robin Bone.’” And she did. Not only did Bone show those girls that she had talent, but she created quite a buzz about herself for being insanely good at pole vault for a freshman. The end of the year competition, held at The Armory Track in New York City, was where Bone became Connecticut’s new state record holder. “I remember setting the bar to the record, and all of a sudden this comfort overcame me the same way it did after I saluted the judges in gymnastics before mounting the apparatus,” Bone explains. “This was such a special meet to me, and I’ll always remember that moment.” She went on to attend her family’s alma mater, Western University, in London, Ontario, Canada, where she studied business and professional communications. At the college level, and under the guidance of coach Dave Collins, Bone won Canadian Youth and

Junior Championships as well as three CIS National Championships. She was, quite literally, clearing the pole with flying colors. After graduating, she moved to Scottsdale in April 2017 to begin her postcollegiate pro training at Altis and Exos — elite athlete and coach training facilities. “At first, my Canadian soul wasn’t ready to train in the triple-digit weather,” she says. “As time went on, I gradually got better with the heat and developed strategies to get through those hotter training days.” She works with internationally recognized pole vault coach Greg Hall, and strength coach Jason Hetler. Her training varies depending on the time of year and what the day looks like. For a non-pole vaulting day, she’ll do a mobility and core series warmup, followed by a track session (running hills, working on speed, etc.), weights, and round out the day with contrast therapy. When it comes to food, Bone is all about preparing fresh meals and fueling her body with the best. As a selfproclaimed “chocoholic,” she’ll sometimes sneak in a piece of dark chocolate every now and then. “I absolutely love to bake and cook. While I do love my dark chocolate, I try to give away my baked goods to my brother and his friends who are always willing to take them off my hands,” Bone laughs. As she continues to adjust to the Valley — she confesses that she’ll probably always get a little kick out of seeing Christmas lights on cacti during the holidays — Bone is happy to be here doing what she loves. As a little girl, she always dreamt of one day competing and performing on the world’s biggest scale, the Olympic stage. With such a strong community at Altis and Exos, as well as her family supporting her every step of the way, her goal is to take the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stage by storm, with her pole in hand. “My dad always told me that to be disrespected by someone you don’t respect, take it as a complement,” Bone says. “I always refer back to that today when adversity comes knocking.”

07/18 ScottsdaleHealth


Profile for Richman Media Group

Scottsdale Health July 2018

Scottsdale Health July 2018