Olympic hopeful supported by family in Oklahoma

Friday, August 8th 2008, 11:32 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Olympics are underway, and one athlete is thanking her husband, a former Edmond resident, for getting her to Beijing.

Erica Bartolina landed a sport on the pole vaulting team after placing third at the Olympic trials.

"I've never known anyone more determined and I honestly can say that," said Erica's mother-in-law Darlene Bartolina.

The focus she exudes during practice comes after the athlete faced another major obstacle in childhood.

"They were rear-ended in a car accident," Darlene Bartolina said. "She was struck in the eye when she was four months old."

Even with limited sight, Erica Bartolina excelled in athletics. On the advice of a high school coach, she took up pole vaulting.

"Like she said, she doesn't think anyone expected her to get it except her husband," Darlene Bartolina said.

Her husband, Mark Bartolina, is also her coach.

"He wanted to be the star athlete when he was in high school. He was somewhat successful," Mark Bartolina's father Don Bartolina said. "I think he found a potential candidate where he could succeed."

There's no animosity or jealousy between the couple because making it to the Olympics is a shared victory for the two.

"It seems like a very compatible endeavor," Don Bartolina said. "I think they both want to succeed."

The family said the success has already been accomplished, no matter what happens in Beijing.

"That's a winner. When you're in the top three on the U.S., you are a winner," Don Bartolina said.