It’s often the abiding question: just what will be the outcome in competition of all those weeks of winter training? How fit will I be? Will the new techniques work? Were all those tough sessions worth it.
If they were the sort of questions being posed by Greek pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi before the start of the year, then she answered them in style with a brilliant opening to her season in the USA.
A vault of 4.56m from Stefanidi, 24, set at a meeting at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, is a personal best for an athlete who is set to be among the favourites for gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague in March.
Stefanidi had a fine 2014, leaving Zurich and the European Athletics Championships with a silver medal after clearing 4.60m to finish second on countback as Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova won gold with 4.65m.
Being based in the USA has played a big part in her life as she took an athletic scholarship at Stanford University and throughout her early career she has achieved some fine success.
Check out this story on Stanford alum Katerina Stefanidi, the 2012 NCAA pole vault champ, and her big 2014 season: http://t.co/hr4azZt7rd
— StanfordXCTF (@StanfordXCTF) November 7, 2014
She won gold at the World Youth Championships in 2005, bronze at the World Junior Championships in 2008 and then silver at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Ostrava in 2011.
Her performance in Zurich was her first major senior medal and with this start to 2015, it looks like a good winter is set to follow an impressive summer.