Buda pole vaulter leaps to new world record at 85

MOSES LEOS III, Hays Free Press - 26 April 2017

Buda pole vaulter leaps to new world record at 85

Few people can say turning 85 years old could be beneficial for them.

For Buda resident and active pole vaulter Frank Dickey, turning the age Jan. 7 signified moving up into a different age bracket in the World Masters Athletics competition. With the move came different (i.e. lower) records to surpass.

And so on Sunday, roughly 92 days after turning the spry age of 85, Dickey put himself into the history books.

By clearing 7-feet, 6-inches in San Antonio, Dickey broke the outdoor men’s pole vault world record for the 85- to 89-year-old division. His mark surpassed a record that had been in place for more than 20 years.

It was all the culmination of a three-year quest for an athlete who returned to the sport 60 years after his prime.

“I would say I’m more proud of that than any of the awards I got in high school or college,” Dickey said.

Getting back on the horse

Three years ago, Dickey, who was 82 at the time, got himself back into the sport. It was done as a way for him to be active after the passing of his wife.

With the help of Lone Star Pole Vault in New Braunfels, Dickey reintroduced himself to the runway.

But the journey back was harder than expected, Dickey said.

One key factor was reintroducing his body to being athletic after a 60-plus year hiatus.

“I did not run much. It was almost as if I was having to learn how to run again,” Dickey said. “Speed in vaulting is very important. I didn’t have that speed (at the time). I shuffled down the runway.”

He also had to get used to fiberglass poles, as well as nuances and updates to the sport over the past 60 years. 

It didn’t take long for Dickey to find his stride. By 2016, Dickey was ranked third in the world in indoor pole vault men’s 80-84 division and fifth in the outdoor rankings.

For Dickey, participating in the pole vault has been a “journey in health.” Having dealt with some back and leg problems, Dickey said pole vaulting has “almost eliminated those issues.”

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