BILL MCCOY was an naval officer stationed in Derry when he met Angela Coyle, his future wife.
The couple had their first child in Ireland and moved to California, where they settled.
The Irish roots were strong and they never lost touch with the Irish way.
In 2003, Angela beamed with pride when her grand-daughter made her first trip to Ireland, to compete in the World Irish Dancing Championships.
The young Tori Peña was talented at whatever she turned her hand to, but Irish dancing never grabbed her in the way her chosen profession would.[adrotate group=”81″]
Somewhere along the way, the pole vault called and Tori Peña was hooked.
Tomorrow, Peña – who joined Finn Valley AC in 2010 – will line up in Rio for the women’s pole vault at the 2016 Olympic Games.
It will be her second Olympic Games, having competed in London, but the memories of 2012 are haunting.[adrotate group=”36″]
There, she ‘no heighted’, meaning she didn’t clear any of her heights.
The Californian – who has dual citizenship – failed her three attempts at 4.10 metres, having cleared 4.50m in her native California back in March 2012 to book her place at the 2012 Games.
“It’s something I’ve working a lot on,” she said recently on the mental preparation.
“My brain tends to work a million miles a minute when I compete. Everything I’m working on now is about trying to slow that down. I just basically have to relax and be in the moment.
“At this stage, I just really want to get out there and compete to my ability. I never really felt like I’ve jumped what I’m capable of in a Championship setting.”
Peña has a degree in International Development Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. University of California, Los Angeles, but has put advancement on hold to concentrate on her sporting career.
She’s had a busy period since qualifying last July, with a 4.50 clearance at Rottach-Egern in Germany.
Back February, she was fifth at the Millrose Games in New York, clearing 4.40m.
Last year, she was 10th in her group in Beijing at the World Championships, her best jump of 4.30m.[adrotate group=”53″]
As the name suggests, Peña has strong Mexican connections on her father’s side.
She was under Shauna Carlin’s guidance in those early days after joining Finn Valley AC.
She qualified for the 2012 Olympics when she reached the standard at the Beach Track and Field Classic at Cerritos College, San Diego four months before the Games.
A year before that, she made her Irish debut in the European Championships in Barcelona and has been a regular in the Irish singlet since then.
Peña will aim for a Championship-type performance. Her personal best is the 4.60m set in Chula Vista, California back in June 2013.Tags: