Amy Acuff Biography 1975-
Amy Acuff was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on July 14, 1975. Her track and field career got off to a very early start as she participated in A.A.U. events for children aged 5 and under, competing in 50, 100 and 200 meter races. She was soon interested in other events, and broke the age 10 and under A.A.U. national long jump record in 1985.
Acuff began competing in the high jump while attending Calallen Middle School in Corpus Christi, even though there was no one at the school to coach her. Instead, she learned the mechanics of the sport through books, videos and instruction clinics. At the age of 13, she jumped 5’8″, a height that put her in league with those at the high school state championship level.
Not only was Acuff fast becoming a track and field prodigy, she was also a fine basketball player, and as a sideline contributor, saw her high school basketball team win the state championships during her freshman year.
In 1990, during that same school year, Acuff’s profile rose to the national level after she cleared 6’0″ in the high jump. In 1991, her sophomore year, she jumped 6’2″ and set a new Texas state record in the process. During her junior year, she established a new national record when she cleared 6’3″.
In 1993, her senior year, she broke that mark with 6’4″. That same year, while competing in the final high jump meet of her high school eligibility in Innsbruck, Austria, Acuff bettered the three World Championships medalists. Gatorade selected her as 1993′s Prep Track and Field Athlete of the Year, and she was also named National High School Athlete of the Year.
Acuff was awarded a full athletic scholarship to UCLA, where she majored in biology. She trained under track and field coaches Jeanette Bolden and Bob Kersee, and with her already outstanding list of record-breaking achievements, became one of their star protgs in no time.
In 1994 and 1995, she was named the NCAA Indoor Champion, while in 1995 and 1996, she was NCAA Outdoor Champion. She was a triple victor in 1995, when she was also crowned U.S. Outdoor Champion, the same year she set a new collegiate record of 6’6″.
Acuff qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in 1996, finishing third at the Olympic trials with 6’3″. Unfortunately, she tore a ligament and collapsed her arch after blowing out her ankle in the qualifying round during the Atlanta games. After recuperating, she rounded out her final year at UCLA by winning her third NCAA Indoor Championship, a second U.S. Outdoor victory, and by becoming World University Games Champion.
Following graduation in 1997, Acuff stayed in Los Angeles to pursue her athletics training on a full-time basis. In addition to her sporting pursuits, she also made some headway as a part-time model. She designed a custom training program in 1998, that aimed to lessen her chances of injury. The program combined deep tissue massage and yoga, as well as stretching and weight training to increase her muscle balance and flexibility.
Acuff experienced a setback when the car she was in was rear-ended on Olympic Boulevard in L.A. just a couple of weeks before trials for the Sydney Olympic Games were set to commence. But the accident failed to dampen her spirits, and she received acupuncture treatment for her minor injuries. She finished third at the trials, winning a spot on the Olympic Team after beating Tisha Waller in a jump-off, the first jump-off held at a U.S. Olympic trial since 1936. In Sydney, she finished a disappointing 17th during qualifications with a jump of 5’10″.
Acuff moved back to Texas in 2001, relocating to the state capital of Austin. She enrolled at the Academy of Oriental Medicine to complete a four-year program that would make her a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Oriental medicine. That same year, she won the first-ever U.S. Indoor title, as well as the Outdoor Championships title, and finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships.
In 2003, she won her fourth U.S. Outdoor Champion title, and also achieved a personal best of 6’7″, the best an American jumper had achieved in the previous years.
Acuff won the U.S. Indoor Championships once again in 2004, the same year she attended her third Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Track and Field squad. After finishing third in the trials, she placed fourth in the high jump in Athens, narrowly missing out on bringing home a medal.
She received ample exposure in Play..boy magazine around the same time as the Games, posing nude for the September 2004 issue, which also featured fellow Olympians Katie Vermeulen, Mary Sauer and Susan Tiedtke-Green.
She married World Indoor silver medalist pole vaulter Tye Harvey in Hawaii in October 2004.