See Randall Cunningham's Daughter Vashti, Who's Headed to the Olympics
THE 23-YEAR-OLD TRACK AND FIELD STAR IS COACHED BY HER FAMOUS DAD.
Before retiring in 2002, Randall Cunningham played in the NFL for 16 seasons and was best known for his years as the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. His daughter Vashti Cunningham, on the other hand, is known for excelling in a totally different sport. Vashti just made headlines for coming first in her event at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials, meaning that she'll be headed to Tokyo in July. To find out more about Randall Cunningham's daughter, her athletic career, and the important role he plays in it, read on.
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Vashti just qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
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Vashti won the high jump event at the Olympic Team Trials for track and field on Jun. 20, which earned her a spot representing the U.S. at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. The 23-year-old athlete did not beat her personal best record of a six foot, seven-and-a-half inch jump, but a six foot, five inch jump was enough to put her ahead of her competition.
"I didn't quite jump the height that I wanted to, but I was just happy to go through [and] to win my first trials title," she told USA Today.
Her father Randall was in the stands cheering her on, and not just as a fan. The NFL star is also her coach.
"The feeling is just amazing," Vashti explained about having her dad there. "I know that making him happy, makes me feel so good. I was blessed to have my family here and my dad. I'm happy [the trial] was on Father's Day."
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This isn't her first time on Team USA.
Ian Walton/Getty Images for IAAF
The high jumper came in second place at the trials for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Then 18, Vashti became the youngest Olympian to compete for the U.S. in track and field since 1980. In Rio, she placed 13th in her event.
Vashti racked up plenty of accomplishments prior to that, when she was still in high school. In 2015, she won her first gold medal at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships. She competed in her first World Athletics Championship that following year, coming in first there as well.
She's currently a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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Training with her dad isn't always easy.
Randall was never a professional track and field athlete. While he competed in the high jump in high school, he obviously chose to focus on his football career full-time. Regardless, he's been Vashti's trainer throughout her career—an unusual father/daughter dynamic they discussed during a 2019 CBS Father's Day special.
"I have to learn how to separate daughter from coach," Randall said of his dual roles in his daughter's life. "Because sometimes I want to be nice to her, but I have to drop the hammer. Because there are days when there are specific things we need to get done, and I want them done perfectly."
Vashti added that working with her father has come with a few challenges.
"When I got to the pro level, and when I felt like I could have a say in stuff, then I feel like he needed to listen to me," she said. "But then I had to remember that he's my dad as well and my coach."
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Vashti's older brother is also a track and field star.
Doug Stroud/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Randall and his wife of almost 30 years, Felicity deJager, have three other children. (A fourth child died in a tragic accident in 2010.) Their eldest, Randall Cunningham II, was on the track and field team at the University of Southern California. And just like his sister, the 25 year old was a high jumper. His official bio notes that he participated in many NCAA tournaments, winning the outdoor high jump title in 2016 and the indoor title in 2018. He competed in the 2016 trials, but didn't qualify for the Rio Olympics.
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