People want to be recognized for their achievements and talent. Unfortunately, for some, it doesn’t work out this way. There are times where something that is beyond your control overshadows talent, athleticism, and achievements. This is something that Allison Stokke can attest to, and she was only 17-years-old when it all went down.
Allison grew up in California, and she wasn’t the only athlete in her family. Her older brother, David, was a National level competitive gymnast, and it was assumed that Allison would follow in his footsteps. It turned out that Allison’s interest and talent were in pole vaulting. By the time she was 15-years-old, she was setting records. She managed to vault 12-feet, 6-inches and won a US title.
Allison wasn’t just athletic; she was also beautiful. When she was a senior in high school, she did some modeling to earn money. Between school and modeling, she still found time to beat her own record. At the national junior championships, she vaulted 13-feet, six 3/4-inches.
In 2007, With Leather was a very popular sports blog with a significant male following. The viral site often took any opportunity to objectify woman, and Allison was often one of their targets. When Allison was competing in a competition in New York in 2007, a journalist for California track and field took a photo of her. Soon, it found its way to With Leather. The website used the pictures of Allison without the original photographer’s permission, and they used the headline, “Pole Vaulting Is Sexy, Barely Legal.” When the photographer saw that With Leather had used the photo, he threatened to sue if they didn’t take it down. By this point, the picture had already spread to other sites.
It didn’t take long before Allison became the subject of a tribute website. On the site were photos of her in pole vaulting competitions. It wasn’t long before the images were shared on social media. In just a short time, the fan sites that were created had thousands of followers. When her photos started circulating, Allison and her family hoped that her fame would be short-lived. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and their problems with the internet were just beginning.
Just when Allison and her family thought that things would slow down, her photos became international news. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the BBC, and the Sydney Morning Herald all published articles and photos of Allison. Soon, her unwanted fame had spread to Germany. Thanks to all of this attention, Allison began receiving emails and photo requests. She had become a sex symbol, and he never wanted to. Many of her online fans became obsessed, which was scary for Allison.
Hiring a Media Consultant
When Allison and her family realized that her internet fame was too much for them to control on their own, Allison hired a media consultant to help them handle the situation. The media consultant suggested that Allison try to shift the focus from her looks to her pole vaulting techniques. She participated in an interview on pole vaulting techniques that was uploaded on YouTube. In just a short time, it received over 100,000 views.
The Comment Section
Unfortunately, the video didn’t do what Allison and her consultant had hoped. The comment section was filled with a discussion on her looks rather than her athleticism. Finally, her father decided to step in. He was a lawyer, and he made it his mission to find something illegal that could shut down the fan sites for good. She never asked for the attention and found it to be creepy and scary. Her father had to figure out a way to get all of the nonsense to stop. All of the attention was taking a mental toll on Allison.
Excelling In Her Sport
Although the constant attention for her looks was getting to Allison, she didn’t let it stop her from training and competing. During her freshman year at UC Berkeley, she broke the school record with a vault of 13-feet, five 3/4-inches. During her sophomore year, she added another 4-inches to her length. During her junior year, Allison still competed, but her main focus was on her college classes.
Her Own Terms
Allison decided that she would still be photographed but on her own terms. She did sportswear modeling for Nike, Uniqlo, and a series of GoPro videos that were posted on YouTube. In 2017, Allison began dating professional golfer, Rickie Fowler, and the two got engaged the following June. Alison still competes today, and she doesn’t let men’s sexist attitudes toward her get her down. Pole Vaulter Allison Stokke is finally talking about the photo that almost ended her career. Today, she is older and stronger than she was in her teens, and he is having an easier time with all the attention.