Pole vaulting was brought into the limelight by none other than Allison Stokke, who set the bar pretty high (excuse the pun) when her sporting talents were catapulted into the media stratosphere after a certain photo. The sportswoman and viral sensation was thrust into the world of criticism, media, paparazzi, and scrutiny from a young age; but there is more to the photo than meets the eye.
Before she became a celebrity in her own right, Allison Stokke has battled through some of the toughest times of her life. It also seems that her very viral picture also had some bad effects on her life and her career, and now she’s speaking out. So how did it all go down?
Just another athlete
There are thousands of track and field athletes around the world, and in 2007, Allison Stokke was just another number to add to that list.
The American high school senior worked part-time as a model and had already made a name for herself in the world of pole vaulting, and had broken numerous records. However, her life changed forever when her photograph was taken during a competition. This photo soon took over the internet and Allison had become a viral sensation overnight. She had been noticed.
Who is Allison Stokke?
Allison Rebecca Stokke was born on March 22, 1989. She spent her early years in California with her parents, Allan and Cindy Stokke, and grew up with her older brother, David.
From a young age, Allison was surrounded by sport. Her brother was a talented gymnast and competed at a national level (which is pretty darn impressive). Because of this, Allison was also pushed towards the world of gymnastics – but quickly realized she didn’t enjoy the sport. So, she searched for a new sport that was more up her alley.
Finding her sport
After searching for a sport of her own, Allison found the perfect fit. As soon as she picked up the pole and started running towards the bar, Allison knew she had found her passion, and she knew she had the capability to succeed in the world of pole vaulting (and of course, she did!).
The determined sports star wasted no time in perfecting her craft, and soon went on to become one of the youngest, most successful pole vaulters in the country. When she was just 15 years old, Allison Stokke won the US title and jumped a whopping 12.5 feet!
Breaking her own records
During her freshman years at high school, Allison Stokke pushed herself even further to become the greatest pole vaulter in history – and her hard work paid off, as she started breaking her own records.
In 2004, she set a new pole vaulting record when she jumped an incredible 12 feet 8 inches. However, this just wasn’t enough for Allison, and a year later she broke her record once more and jumped a ridiculous 13 feet 5 ¾ inches. Let’s be honest; we couldn’t even jump the 5 ¾ inches.
Allison’s senior year
In her senior year, Allison was managing to juggle her studies and her scrupulous training schedule. Nevertheless, she knew it was all worthwhile, as she was slowly but surely becoming nationally and internationally recognized as the pole vaulter to beat.
She was topping the league and medals tables and was a surefire competitor. That same year, she beat her record once more – and jumped an impressive 13 feet 6 ¾ inches. If you’re not quite sure how impressive that really is, 13 feet and 6 ¾ inches is more than double the height of the (ridiculously tall) basketball player, Michael Jordan.
The infamous photo
Life was going incredibly well for the young sports star. However, her perfect life took an unexpected turn in 2007, when she was photographed at a pole vaulting event.
The then-17-year-old was patiently waiting her turn in a competition when an innocent bystander took a photo of her. The photograph was published on the internet and re-published onto a blog called With Leather which posts photos of young women for an all-male clientele. This photo would soon change Allison Stokke’s life.
An internet sensation
The blog in question had a pretty dodgy reputation and re-posted her photograph with a seedy and demeaning caption, which had nothing to do with her sport or incredible talent.
However, this photograph was having a disastrous effect on the young woman’s life, as it was becoming a viral sensation across multiple media platforms. After seeing the effect it was having on the young sports star, the original photographer approached the website and threatened to sue them if they didn’t remove the photograph… but it was too late. The internet now had the photograph.
Their internet crush
As the first photograph took over the internet, many Allison Stokke fan clubs and websites made their way into the public domain.
These websites managed to uncover more and more photographs of the young pole vaulter and published them on their websites for men to fawn over. The men would often comment on these photographs, and maintained that the young sportswoman was their “internet crush.” These websites soon spiraled out of control, and Stokke found herself caught in the middle of this media storm.
An international fan-base
Soon enough, the photo had made its way across the pond, and Allison Stokke soon had an international fan-base.
As her name continued to dominate websites and blog posts, her name was soon picked up by news stations and newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times. News reports of her photograph and her fame were broadcast in Germany, the UK, and she had even made her way to Australia – where her story was featured on a popular talk show.
Trying to take control
Allison was perturbed by the situation. The young sportswoman had spent years perfecting her craft to be seen as a competent and talented pole vaulter and was now making the rounds for a photograph that had been misconstrued by a website.
After a while, she tried to take control of the situation – but the power of the media was just too strong. In fact, Allison had to hire a manager to deal with all of the emails and phone calls she was receiving. However, she also had to deal with the much darker side of fame: stalkers.
After a while, Stokke knew she had to do something to shift the attention away from her photographs and her looks – so, she organized an interview with a major news outlet.
In this interview, she gave budding sports women tips on how to perfect the pole vaulting techniques, and the video was uploaded to YouTube. However, the video did not have the desired effect. Instead of commenting on her talent, many of the 100,000 people that watched the video continued to talk about her physique and her beauty.
Getting some help
Luckily, Allison Stokke didn’t have to look far to get some help with her situation. Allan Stokke, her father, was a practicing lawyer who made it his mission to help his daughter and keep her away from danger and unwanted attention.
Allan spent hours trawling through the YouTube comments and the comments on the websites to see if any of them were illegal or legally inappropriate – this way, he could see if anyone was trying to stalk Allison. Although he was able to remove any immediate danger, he was not able to restore the damaging effect the situation had had on Allison.
Finding a positive
Despite the uncomfortable and scary situation Allison had to deal with, she tried to find small positives within the sea of negatives. As her photographs continued to go viral, CBS decided to use her situation as a warning to young women and sportswomen across the world.
In their educational news segment, they made people aware how easy it was to make these vulnerable young women public figures, without their consent. They wanted to highlight the negative effects and the dangers associated with social media and the internet.
Locking the doors
Unfortunately, all of the attempts to soften the situation had been too little, too late – as Allison Stokke had been permanently scarred by the events.
Allison reported that she was scared to attend pole vaulting competitions, as she would always be joined by a band of admirers who all wanted to get close to her. She also remarked that the situation had taken a toll on her mental health, and how she did not feel safe unless she had locked every single door to get to her. Her life had been turned upside-down.
Taking over her talent
Although her life had changed over the course of a few months, Allison Stokke was ultimately upset that her photographs and her looks had taken over her talent.
Her pole vaulting skills had been completely overshadowed by these websites and blogs that remarked on her appearance – all of her hard work had been for nothing. By 2010, a quick internet search of Allison Stokke’s name would result in more than 1 million results. Nearly all of these results had nothing to do with her sports talent.
Her college career
After a stressful few years, Allison Stokke was happy to get out of the limelight for a while – and welcomed a new life at college.
The incredible pole vaulter managed to bag herself a full athletic scholarship to study in California so that she could stay close to her home, her family and her friends, and continue her pole vaulting career with the Golden Bears. During this time, Allison maintained a low profile, and rarely posted on social media, to give her just a few years of solitude.
Setting new records
As she shied away from the press and social media, Allison Stokke was able to keep her head down and focus on what was important to her; her studies and her pole vaulting career.
Amazingly, Allison managed to excel in both. By the end of her college career, she had obtained a masters degree in sociology and had set new records in the world of track and field. In fact, she had jumped higher than she had before, and was regularly making it into the top 10 in every competition.
Setting her sights high
Any sportsman will tell you that the ultimate dream is to reach the Olympics – and Allison Stokke was no different.
After she graduated from college, Allison set her sights high and pushed herself harder and harder. The young sportswoman maintained a strict training regime, which resulted in a new personal best; she had jumped a whopping 14 feet and 3 ½ inches! As 2012 reared ever closer, Allison had her sights firmly set on the London Olympics. But first, she needed to qualify…
A disappointing finish
Allison trained like never before for her Olympic dreams – but sadly, her hard work ended in disappointment.
During the qualifying event, Allison Stokke narrowly missed out on the chance to represent the United States in London 2012. Like twelve other contenders, Stokke had been unable to clear the height required to qualify for the Games. Although she had cleared 14 feet before, the pressure of the competition proved too much. Her Olympic dreams were over.
A modeling stint
In 2015, Allison Stokke decided to hang up her pole for a while and try her hand at something a little different.
The sportswoman decided to finally answer the many pleas of major sports brands and accepted their offers to model their clothing. That same year, she appeared in Nike’s Spring and Summer collection and even worked for major sportswear brand, Athleta. It comes as no surprise that she took the modeling world by storm (duh)…
A collaboration with GoPro 20
As she became a sought-after model and brand ambassador, Allison was offered another opportunity she just couldn’t refuse – and she soon entered a collaboration with GoPro.
The camera-specialists wanted to give both sports and tech fans the opportunity to see pole vaulting like never before and created videos that featured Allison and her pole vaulting skills from all angles and speeds. We were able to see every intricate detail of the jump; as if we were doing it ourselves!
In 2016, Allison Stokke once again proved that she was a natural sportswoman and model, as she modeled Uniqlo’s newest fitness line.
The brand released images and videos of Allison as she ran along the beach in their specialist sportswear – and let’s be honest, she totally rocked it. Unfortunately, Allison hasn’t been part of a modeling campaign since this collaboration, but we reckon it’s only a matter of time before her talents are snapped up once more.
Love is in the air
Towards the end of 2016, Allison Stokke made headlines once more – with rumors of her new beau taking the internet by storm.
It was rumored that Allison and Rickie Fowler were more than friends, as the pair was seen together at a Motocross Grand Prix, and often spotted out and about. The rumors were further heightened as they both posted photographs of them together on their Instagram accounts (oo-er). However, this wasn’t enough for the internet, who wanted more proof that the pair was really dating…
Who is Rickie Fowler?
So who is Allison Stokke’s apparent love interest? Well, it seems Allison has a thing for sports stars, as Rickie Fowler is a 28-year-old professional golfer.
Although Fowler has yet to make an international name for himself (we only give it a matter of time), his talent took him all the way to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the famous U.S. Open. The young golfer has yet to win any major competitions, but he has often ranked in the top-ten in these prolific games. Go, Rickie!
A famous photo
However, it seems Allison and Rickie have something in common – as both of the young sports stars have viral photos attached to their names.
In 2016, Fowler was part of the incredible American Golf Team who had won the Ryder Cup (after losing out eight years in a row!) As the team celebrated with their partners, Rickie Fowler was left on his lonesome with nobody to kiss. Rickie decided to make a mockery of the situation and shrugged his arms – a pose which took the internet by storm.
Spilling the beans
After months of speculation, Allison and Rickie’s relationship was finally confirmed – but not by the couple.
Instead, Rickie’s teammate had spilled the beans! During a golfing press conference, Jason Day had joked about Fowler’s absence at the team meeting the previous day to the many journalists, reporters and camera crews in the room. He hinted that Rickie had FINALLY found a girlfriend, and had a new and busy schedule with all of his boyfriend-y commitments. Oops…
A perfect relationship
Now that their relationship has been made public (thanks, Jason), Allison and Rickie don’t have to worry about keeping their relationship under wraps – and they’re definitely not holding back!
The couple is regularly spotted out and about holding hands, looking all loved up, going on adventurous and exciting vacations, and spending holidays together; including the 4th of July (we love the hat). The couple also keeps us up to date with their shenanigans through their Instagram feeds, not that we’re jealous or anything…
As she’s now taken a break from the world of pole vaulting, Allison Stokke has a lot of free time on her hands.
Luckily, her new boyfriend has given her the perfect excuse to get out and about – and Allison has now become Rickie’s no.1 cheerleader. The sportswoman is often spotted accompanying her golfer bae to many of his tournaments and has been seen celebrating with her man at competitions such as the U.S. Open. Couple goals? We think so.
A potential distraction
Although the internet loves to follow Allison and Rickie’s every move, there is one person who isn’t too happy about their relationship – Rickie’s coach.
It’s been reported that his golfing coach has given Rickie an ultimatum… he needs to decide whether he wants to continue his career as a professional golfer, or whether he wants to become the next social media superstar with his new girlfriend. However, it seems Rickie has ignored his coach’s advice, as both his professional and personal lives are flourishing.
As a keen sportswoman, it seems Rickie Fowler has a little competition to look out for. Yep, inspired by her boyfriends skills, Allison has tried her hand at golf herself – and it seems she’s pretty darn good!
Stokke has posted numerous photos and videos of herself on the golf course, which will give Fowler a chance to stake out the competition, but also someone to practice with when they run out of date night ideas. Perhaps Allison might permanently put down the pole and pick up the golf club instead?
She’s come a long way
Despite her struggles as a teenager, Allison Stokke has come a long way since her early days. A decade ago, her life was plagued with unnecessary, unwarranted pictures that were taken without her consent, and her life was changed forever.
She was thrust into a very different world, and her talent was overshadowed. However, since then, she has made it her mission to override these photos and show her talent shines above all else. With a new lease of life and a new boyfriend in her life, it seems Allison Stokke is a force to be reckoned with!
Although Allison has now proved her incredible skill in the world of track and field, there are still people who ask Stokke about the photographs during interviews and press tours.
In a recent interview, Allison decided to speak her mind on the whole ordeal – and how the internet changed her life from an early age. Today, it still feels as if the real Allison and the photograph-Allison are two different people. She has said that she feels the photograph is her “alter-ego.” Sometimes it is positive, other times it is negative.
She won’t give up
The whole ordeal has been incredibly testing on the young athlete, but she has never allowed the photographs to define her. Instead, Allison Stokke has made it her mission to never give up.
Today, she continues to train as hard as possible to constantly improve her talent and her craft – with the Olympic Games still firmly in her sights. Allison is currently based in Phoenix and trains with a new coach, who is often regarded as one of the best pole vaulting coaches in the world. We can’t wait for the day when we finally see her at the Olympics!
Women pole vaulters
It’s no secret that Allison Stokke’s viral sensation brought female pole vaulting to the forefront of our attention. Before that, only dedicated pole vaulting fans could name the world-record holder or the top pole vaulters of the day.
Since Stokke’s photograph, more and more female vaulters have been brought to light. In 2016, “The Hottest Women Pole Vaulters of the 2016 Rio Olympics” list was formed and included names such as Eliza McCartney and Sandi Morris. From the outset, this list seems no different to the websites and blogs associated with Stokke – but this list is a little different…
Credit where credit is due
Although it may seem as though this list only associates talent and recognition with the vaulters outward appearance, this list does give credit where credit is due.
Instead of judging them solely on their looks, this list actually compliments these strong women for their fearlessness and their ability to be “impossibly graceful as they fly through the air.” The list and the article also bring to light the dangers and the talent that goes into pole vaulting – which had previously been dominated solely by men.
For all of the wrong reasons
Thankfully, the incessant media attention surrounding Allison Stokke has now calmed down. However, that doesn’t mean it has stopped completely. In a recent interview, Stokke confirmed that she still gets messages from people now and then – many of whom ask for photographs or present her with derogatory comments.
In fact, her alma mater has been forced to remove her photograph from their website, as too many people were asking for a signed copy. Stokke knows she is a celebrity, but feels she is famous for all of the wrong reasons.
After her stint as a model, Allison Stokke made the decision to lay low, to try and find solitude and privacy.
Of course, as she continues her pole vaulting career and dates a professional golfer, her life will never be out of the limelight – but she is trying to build a shield around herself and her personal life. She has already tasted the true effects of fame and does not want that to continue for the rest of her life. Instead, she wants to stay true to herself and her morals.
She couldn’t understand
In recent years, Stokke has had time to truly reflect on her younger years and all of the drama that surrounded her pole vaulting skills and the photographs that changed her life for the better and for the worse.
However, she still doesn’t understand why the photographs went viral. In her eyes, there were other pole vaulters around the country and the world who were leagues above her in both talent and attractiveness – so why did she get so much attention?
She was not worthy
Allison Stokke has even admitted that, throughout her career, she turned down major offers from huge brands and companies who wanted to work with her – because she did not feel she was worthy or deserved what they were offering.
She was offered TV gigs, modeling jobs, and had brand ambassador requests that many could only dream of. However, she does not regret turning these offers own, as she has never wanted the level of fame and attention that came with them.
A true life lesson
Although it’s easy to see how the whole situation was difficult for Allison Stokke, many of us forget how this kind of events affect those around them – like Allison’s parents.
It could not have been easy seeing their 17-year-old daughter make the rounds on social media and the internet, especially in the way her photographs were being promoted. Allison’s mother has often spoken out about this experience, stating how it was a major life lesson for Allison, who had to grow up incredibly fast, but not give up on her career because of a silly photograph.
Affected her emotionally
It has now been a decade since the photograph first went viral, but Allison Stokke has maintained that the whole situations still affects her on an emotional and mental level.
While she was at college, she even wrote an essay about the deep emotional trauma for one of her Sociology classes. At the time, her professor told the students that they had the option to share the essay, keep it to themselves, or delete it. Allison decided to delete the essay, an action she now regrets.
Different for men
When the photo of Allison Stokke first circulated a decade ago, she was just 17 years old and had no idea how to handle it. However, as time went by, she began to question the whole situation and the inequality of her experience.
In a recent interview, Stokke questioned the difference between men and women sports stars. In this comparison, she noted how she had never known a photograph to go viral of a sportsman who wasn’t already at the top of their game, and one of the best in their field. Stokke was just an amateur when her photograph was taken – but because she was attractive, she was exploited.
Moving forward in life
As it turns out, Allison and Rickie’s dating life went exceptionally well, because in late 2019 Rickie proposed to the pole vaulter and she said yes! The two were married on the beach surrounded by family and friend.
There could seriously not be a more perfect way to start a marriage. These two athlete know what it means to be committed to something, and so we have no doubt that this marriage will be nothing short of a home run.