AP Photo Pat Graham
Randall Cunningham the NFL quarterback was good at avoiding pressure. Randall Cunningham the coach of his teenage high jump phenom daughter is good at alleviating it.
18-year-old Vashti Cunningham was struggling in the qualifying round of the Olympic high jump Thursday. Her dad gave her a little friendly advice that changed things and helped her move into the final on Saturday.
"I was just mentally struggling. He was telling me, 'Oh, I've been here. You can do this,'" said Vashti, whose father watched from the stands. "It pushed me through."
Randall began coaching his daughter and his son, Randall II — now at Southern California — when they were just kids. A standout in the high jump in high school, Randall turned his focus to football at UNLV because the school didn't have men's track and field. He spent 16 years in the NFL with four teams.
Now, he's overseeing his daughter's high jump career. Randall even built a track club in Las Vegas to help his family soar to new heights in the high jump. He's always offering up tips he learned from his time on the football field.
Mostly, it's little things like: "Just stay focused on what I'm doing, not get sidetracked while I'm waiting for my competition day," said Vashti, who turned pro and signed with Nike in March.
While in Rio, Vashti said she really hasn't done much.
"Just practicing a lot," Vashti said. "Been with my family a lot, too."
AP Photo/Vernon Biever