Local man a pole vault champion at age 85

At 85 years old, Bob Arledge was in a seaside town in Spain enjoying a 110 degree day.

Oh, and winning a Gold Medal in an international pole vaulting competition.

That’s right. The Otterbein resident placed first in the pole vault competition at the World Masters Track and Field Championship competition this past September in Malaga, Spain. Arledge won the Gold medal by vaulting 5 feet, 10 inches and edging out the second place competitor from Finland who vaulted 5 feet, 5 inches.

There were six final competitors in this 85 to 89 age group representing five countries.

Arledge said he won his Gold medal despite using a borrowed pole that was heavier and a bit more rigid than the pole he owns.

Prior to a vault, Arledge said he chooses not to know the height he is facing. In fact, he avoids even looking at the hurdle, saying it might undermine his self-confidence.

He makes a 50-foot run before up he goes. The goal is to fall on the foam mat on his back. And, yes, he has suffered a few injuries, including dislocating a shoulder and breaking a rib along with some leg muscle injuries. Nothing has stopped him, however.

Arledge said he began pole vaulting back in high school when his first poles were bamboo and vaulters landed in sawdust or sand pits.

To keep in shape, Arledge said he swims every day at the Otterbein YMCA Aquatic Center and lifts weights twice a week. He also does leg lifts while hanging from gymnastic rings in his garage to maintain strength in his abdominal muscles.

Fourteen years after his retirement from the U.S. Air Force, Arledge said he decided he needed to become more physically fit which led to his decision to take up pole vaulting once again.

His message to fellow senior citizens is this: “You have more control over your health than you realize. A regular exercise program and proper nutrition is where to begin.”

Bob is a resident at Otterbein Senior Life in Lebanon and volunteers his time at Bishop Fenwick High School, coaching both boys and girls in pole vaulting. He is also a member of the Worldwide Senior Pole Vaulting Brotherhood, an aging group, declining in numbers, but true to the philosophy “Never Give Up.”

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