City College Times

Track star overcomes adversity

Astrid Caballero

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She has left behind loved ones and moved from home to pursue a dream others believed she could not accomplish as a young Puerto Rican woman.

Diamara Planell Cruz, 20, a human physiology major with a minor in psychology, has broken records since she started at Los Altos High School as a junior.

Joining the track and field team in Los Altos, Cruz broke the 2005 Los Altos girl’s pole vaulting record of 7’6.”

Now at San Jose City College, she has broken the women’s pole vaulting record in Northern California State Championship jumping 12’7’’ and breaking the State record with 12’9’’ at Stanford.

“She pretty much defines the sport right now in junior college in the state of California,” pole vaulting coach Brandon Vance said.

During the summer of 2012, Cruz represented Puerto Rico in the Junior Central American and Caribbean Championship in El Salvador.

Once there, Cruz won the gold medal in the CACC Junior Division which qualified her to compete in the Junior World Championship in Barcelona, Spain.

Standing on the podium in El Salvador, it was an amazing experience to watch her flag and hear her national anthem play, Cruz said.

Though her hard work is paying off, negative correspondence from coaches in Puerto Rico continues to circulate on the fact that she is a young, female pole vaulter who could not possibly do what she does today.

“It is hard to hear that, but it drove me more to prove them wrong,” Cruz said.

“I was flabbergasted when I got some of these emails,” Vance said. “She is as strong as any man I have ever met in my entire life,” referring to last year’s state incident in which Cruz broke a pole going 150 miles per hour during warm-ups and that left a contusion on her knee the size of a golf ball.

Despite the injury, Cruz went on to win the state title.

As a female pole vaulter, Cruz has not only broken records, but broken barriers and status quos that tried to thwart her efforts in being a pole vaulter in Puerto Rico.

“They start jumping later in life. They start in college because it is not available in high school,” Cruz said as she recalls her efforts to find a college pole vaulting coach in Puerto Rico.

Her goal to change the way female pole vaulters are seen and treated is a passion of hers. She said she wishes to one day make it to the Olympics to represent her country.

“I know she definitely has the goal of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio to compete for Puerto Rico,” said friend and fellow pole vaulter Emily Soley, 19, biomedical engineering major.

“I want to inspire some kind of change,” Cruz said. “I want to show the girls that it is possible.”

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Track star overcomes adversity