Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cool Video

Here's a neat video of our opening ceremonies -

I've also started a new blog called "A Day in the Life of a Masters Pole Vaulter" if you are interested. All the best!


Friday, October 16, 2009

The End - For Now

Well I made it home after about 28 hours after leaving my hotel in Sydney. I told Nancy at dinner last night that this is the least beat up that I have been after a big meet. I'm not sure what that means but I like it. I do know that the 4m (13' 1 1/2") jump was on the biggest pole I have used since my return in 2005 (14'/178/15.7)and I can't wait to get back on it and try it's bigger brothers. Normally bigger poles beat you up more so I'm pleased I feel good.

I dropped by and saw June at the hospital and they will move her to a rehab hospital for three weeks today. That's a very good sign that things are moving that fast.

I wanted to clarify the explanation on the "Doping Control". Because of the size of this event it had been rumored that the doping tests would be more of a threat than a reality in order to "look good" in their efforts. A bark with no bite. Normally this would be a non-story or factor except that it was very visible, whereas at our own National meets you know it's there, but unless you got selected, you don't really see it. At these Games we even had to sign documents agreeing to be tested twice, once upon entry and another time upon declaration. I guess we'll wait and see how many positives come up to see if it worked. The difference and reason for the mention is how visible the testing efforts were as we just aren't used to actually "seeing" it even though it's always there.

OK, this will sound stupid but I'm a realist to I can tell you that within the next month my mind will go into the mode, "that was nice, congrats, but what have you done lately". That is why I'm going to end this chapter of the story here. I'm not quite certain what is next and I want to start with a clean goal. What I THINK will happen is that I will vault on March 5, at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Kamloops, BC, Canada, followed by USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in Boston on the third week of March. So two HUGE meets within two weeks of each other. That will really take some planning and coordination. Not to mention that I will be another year older and some stiff new competition enters my age group.

After these meets the next big things are World Outdoor Athletics in 2011 in Sacramento and the National Senior Games in the same year right here in Houston. These meets may be nearly impossible to medal at because I will then be the oldest in my group with a very deep field of young studs coming in. But that's exactly why I will train my butt off to defy those odds. Besides, that just sets me up for my next big goals.

All of this said, my true next goals are in 2013 when I will have two huge meets the same summer that I turn 60 and become the youngest in my group. The meet I just left in Sydney will be in Italy and the World Masters Athletics will be in Brazil. That year I will hit both.

In closing I want to again express my sincere thanks for coming along on this ride with me. I truly hope you felt like part of the team because that's how I feel about you. You were such a great outlet and support through this very trying process and I want you to feel the joy of our victory because it couldn't have happened without all of us. So thanks again and I'll let you know when I'm ready to start blogging for Kamloops/Boston, probably right after the first of the year - even though I start training for it this Sunday. All the best!! Looking forward to working with you again!! Bubba

PS - or local paper is doing an interview with me this morning for an article on the meet so I will make one more post of that link when it comes out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just When You Thought it Was Over

Hello again. I'm sitting in the Sydney airport waiting to board my flight to LA and then later on to Houston. I blogged to you more when I felt more stress and now maybe because of my concern for Nancy and her mom. I'm not overly worried about her because she's always been in excellent health and strong for 93 years old. I few years ago she got pneumonia and fully recovered in about three weeks. Most older people don't do that. Anyway, I can't call because there are no cell phones in the hospital and then I have a 14 hour flight. So fortunately I still have you guys. Thanks so much for that.

A couple of things I have been asked I wanted to answer for the group. First is the "Doping Control". Just to let everyone know, this was not a cosmetic scare tactic. ALL medalists have to pass through Doping Control on their way to receive their awards. As Warren Hill, an official (and vaulter) led us through he said, "unless one of you gets stopped for drug testing we should be to the podium in about five minutes". He hands in the results and they select you or not. If they do, everyone else in your group waits while you go through the procedures. I'm glad no one was chosen in our group because it had already been a marathon day, was starting to get dark and I had not even packed up my poles or bags so I could walk back to the hotel. So, YES, Doping Control was present and used.

The wind. All vaulters have their wind horror stories but this was the worst I have seen. Tom and I noticed that there would be a brief drop to about 10 mph for about 3-5 seconds that would be followed by a cross tail, to cross, to head cross, to direct head (like a clock) over the next 10 seconds while gaining speed at each angle. This only happened every 10-15 minutes so unless you got this when you had your one minute on the runway, then your best option was to wait for the 15-20 mph cross from the right as that was as good as it was going to get. Since I was jumping alone with five minutes between jumps I actually got the dead to cross progression twice. Now remember - dead is 10 mph.

Here's my two big wind stories. At Round Rock High School outside of Austin last November it was cold and very windy, mostly tail. As the day went on it quartered over your right shoulder a little. When I came in to do my run through, it came totally across in a huge gust and blew my pole so hard I missed the box and planted into the left wedge where the front buns meet the pit. The pole bent totally sideways and I got shot to the front corner of the right bun where I let go with one hand and dropped. After I regained my heart in my chest, or official, the great Briam Elmore told it I was up for my first meet jump. I made it on my first jump but you can imagine that this was in my mind as a possibility as I ran down the runway for my first jump in Sydney.
The other time was at Worlds in 1997 in South Africa. We had a 40 mph headwind and they wouldn't turn the pit around to the other end because the standards on that end were not bolted down so that would cause an unsafe environment. HUH?! Like running into a 40 mph is the "safer" alternative. Well that's what we did and it worked for me because I was coming off of a strained hamstring. I ended up getting the bronze medal whereas if we had gone the other way I may have pulled during warm up or gotten a much lower place because everyone could use a big pole but me.

I'm sure you guys have good stories too. Gotta run as we're about to board. All the best and thanks again! Bubba

Back to Earth & Reality

This is going to be my final post before I head to the airport early in the morning. I found out this afternoon when I couldn't get in touch with Nancy that her mom apparently had a mini stroke. The ambulance took her to the hospital and they are trying to get her back out and home soon rather than allow her to be exposed to all of the flu in the ER. My dad has had a few of these so I'm sure it's a minor setback from lack of sleep and overstress. Older people tend to be more fearful even though everything is done to simplify their lives. I've got the perfect mother-in-law in that she is a very nice person and very easy to get along with. I'm sure she will be fine but at 93 you never know. The bad part is that I can't make the plane go any faster so I'll just have to feel helpless a little longer. I'm obviously in touch with Nancy and my dad is also around if she needs anything, plus we have some really good friends in the area. Update - at 5 AM Thursday morning Nancy says her mom is worse so they will be holding her for an undetermined time frame. I leave for the airport in an hour in will be home in about 26 hours.

Back to the observations, here they call McDonalds "Maccas". I mean they call it that on the commercials. It's still McDonalds but it's also Maccas.

On TV many of the channels are called Fox 1, Fox 2, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, etc., because Australian Billionaire, Rupert Murdoch owns Fox. I bet there are 8-10 Fox channels. That said, they have two FM radio channels on TV and also an all Yoga channel. Yep - all yoga all of the time. Nancy loves that but it's an easy pass for me. I don't have the grace, flexibility or patience. Probably the reasons I SHOULD look into it.

OK gang, I'm signing off until a get home and then I'll decide what's next. All I know is that Monday is day one toward next year's goals with a completely new program that I have been really excited to start. I guess the Maine trip is up in the air as we wait to see how June is doing. Also it's my hope that my poles will get home soon as they were to be picked up today. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again and million times!! Bubba

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday Post #3 - More Videos

This is 3.90m or 12' 9 1/2"

This is 3.80m or 12' 5 1/2"

This is 3.70m or 12' 1 1/2"

This is my opening height of 3.60m or 11' 9 3/4"

Wednesday Post #2 - Videos

We'll try this out with my first warm up jump with a bungee at 16' 6" and my meet vault of 13' 1 1/2". If we can get it to work I'll post the rest of them. Thanks! Bubba

Warm up with bungee at 16' 6"

My highest jump of the day - 4m (13' 1 1/2")

Wednesday Post #1 - Thoughts, Reflections & Thanks!

Good Morning. I didn't get much sleep last night but will make up for it today. After dinner with Alan, posting for the blog and talking to Nancy and Kris it was nearly 1 AM. Of course I got up at 5 AM as usual so I'll get a nap in today. The gravity of this still accomplishment hasn't set in for me but every time a walk past where my gold medal is hanging I'm reminded that it's very real. I am honored, grateful and humbled and so appreciative of your support and friendship.

Another factor in the conditions yesterday was that s the meet went on the sun was coming down behind the pit so it shaded the plant box and made it tough to see. Then when you completed your take off and looked up toward the bar, the sun blasted your view so you were going totally off of feel with no real concept of where you were in space. Very spooky.

A quick note to last night's thanks - Phil Raschker is a great and true friend from Georgia. She is the most decorated athlete in our sport often winning 10 gold medals at these events. I got to know her in the mid 1990s when she took up the vault. She knew I was ready for a breakthrough and kept up with me every day, throughout the day, including hanging out for most of my competition yesterday after she finished winning the 400m. I'm not a dot in her universe as far as performance results but she's encouraged me like it was her first gold medal too. She is the kind of person that cheers for everyone and sincerely shares the joy of other's accomplishments. She and Tom Rauscher are staying in the same hotel pretty far away from me so my commitment to Alan kept me from getting together with them for dinner. I just wanted to acknowledge my appreciation for her here.

Also blogger and friend for many years, Ken Stone, is constantly on the move trying to improve our sport. There is not an issue that he won't get involved in if he thinks it needs attention. He is a great ambassador and activist for our sport and I'm honored to say he's my friend. Ken, I was told for results to Google New South Wales (NSW) Athletics as that is where ours are posted.

Next I absolutely would not be here without my training partner, Don Curry. Don had had some injury issues but appears near cleaning those up. We learned to vault together as kids and even vaulted in each other's backyards before we really knew what we were doing. So I've been with Don for over 40 years. A great vaulter himself, he won the National Senior Games in Louisville in 2007 and I got 2nd.

Coach Dan Green recently retired and his son has taken over the program at The Woodlands High School where I train. Our school was named the #1 high school athletic program in the US by ESPN. Coach Green has a phenomenal awards list and is a master motivator. Being able to talk to him and get his insights on many topics has been a true blessing. His son, Juris, is beyond impressive in the way he goes about his business so I'll looking forward to developing more of a relationship with him too. Shawn Hamilton is our strength & conditioning coach and he too is a huge resource for me. He has the highest USA Track & Field certification offered and is a walking reference manual and all around terrific guy. Our pole vault coach is probably the nicest and most sincere man I have ever met in Robbie Dueitt. There is not a better coach when it comes to getting a brand new kid effective in a very short time - 20 minutes and they are clearing a crossbar. When he is in football I run the program for the off season and report to him. When he comes back out I serve as his volunteer assistant. Two other big names that make it possible for me and our pole vault club to succeed are Athletic Director, Mark Schmid. Not only is he a GREAT football coach he also coached the kid to our school record of 16' 1 1/4" before Robbie or me were involved. Finally the Principal, Greg Colschen, is an ardent supporter of the track program and he too has blessed me being able to practice and help out there. Without these guys I wouldn't have near the success I have had. They are a second family for me for which I am very thankful.

I'll post others as they come up but now here are a few "funny" things I've seen. On the way in from the airport I saw a logo that looked just like the Burger King logo but it said "Burger Giant". It advertised on a billboard, "Brekky at 6 AM". Though they do have Snickers candy bars, they also have a knock off brand with the exact same packaging and color/graphic scheme called "More Nuts". They also have warnings on their freeway signs that they "Ticket Drink Drivers". Here it is called "Drink Driving" instead of "Drunk Driving". I should have kept a list because there are many funny sayings and descriptions. I have never met an Ozzie who was not friendly and funny. Not a bad way to be known.

Thanks again for your interest and support. I head home tomorrow and will be so happy to get there. I've had a great time but I'm certainly mentally and physically drained. Im sure I'll have some other closing thoughts. Thanks for tuning in and caring. It means the world to me. Bubba