KEMPNER, TX — A Kempner man is putting his pole vaulting skills to the test at the National Senior Games.
“I saw a Facebook post, a guy that went to my same high school back in Houston,” said John Clark. “It talked about him winning the world championship in something called masters pole vaulting. I never heard of it.”
He decided to give it a try by training under his former classmate.
Clark first picked up a pole in October of 2017 at the age of 60. He said the thrill of launching into the air became a passion immediately.
“When I turned 60 it was kind of a depressing thing, I was overweight, out of shape, not feeling too great about myself. Through pole vaulting I’ve gotten back in shape, the future looks fun again. I have goals, like you said, it’s kind of changed my life in a lot of ways,” said Clark.
As he continued to practice the sport, he went on to compete at the Oklahoma Senior Games. He earned a gold medal, and an invitation to the National Senior Games.
Clark now trains under Jack Chapman, owner of Texas Elite Pole Vaulting, in Killeen. He practices with a group of teens from the greater Killeen area.
“Oh, it makes you feel young to get out with them and mix it up with them. And they’re all such cool kids,” said Clark.
The team has been inspired by Clark’s success.
“He’s ready to jump high. He’s doing some great things. It’s really exciting to have John here. The kids love him. He’s a big part of our program,” said Chapman.
Along with continuing his work in pole vaulting, Clark has recently become a personal trainer specializing in senior fitness. He hopes to help others reach their goals.
He will compete on June 19 in Albuquerque.