Vashti Cunningham tied for sixth in the Olympic women’s high jump Saturday, clearing 1.96 meters (6 feet, 4.3 inches).
The 23-year-old has become a world-class jumper, winning national championships and an indoor world title. She’s coached by her father, former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, who is also senior pastor for Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas.
Randall was known for his unique, elusive skills that earned him two league MVPs during his 16-year career.
During a recent interview, Vashti spoke about the important role her father plays as coach and mentor.
“My dad and me have a relationship that is different than any relationship I have with anyone in my life,” she said. “He stays the same person throughout all of it … coach, dad, pastor. He’s going to talk about the same things. He’s going to talk about God to me in practice and track to me when I come to see him at his office at church and both when I’m at home so I don’t expect anything different from him and he doesn’t confuse me. And that relationship just means a lot to me and has especially influenced me going to the Olympics and just pushed me with love.”
No longer on the field, Randall Cunningham has turned his focus towards his Olympian daughter, who he continues to support and push to help achieve her goals and dreams in the Olympics!
Meet Vashti Cunningham, who continues to blaze a trail to Olympic greatness. pic.twitter.com/0sGOJqiTNf
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) August 5, 2021
And the father-daughter duo have an interesting training routine where Vashti doesn’t practice jumping much at all. She works more on strength and speed training, which they believe makes her more durable.
“I put my trust in God and in the weight room,” Cunningham told The New York Times earlier this year.
During her junior year of high school, Vashti’s talent gained attention. She set a national record, jumping 6 feet, 4.5 inches.
In 2016, at the end of her senior year of high school, Vashti turned pro. Then a few months later she became the youngest track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics since 1980.
She competed in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as an 18-year-old and placed 13th overall. Vashti’s loss in Rio challenged her faith and caused her to feel that she wasn’t living up to her father’s expectations.
Three years later, she took the bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships.
“I was literally able to push through all of the things I was going through to the back of my mind and realize the opportunity that was in front of me and not limit myself or what God could do through me,” she said.