It’s never too late to learn something new, including how to pole vault. Just ask 83-year-old Flo Meiler, who put the possibility of landing on her neck aside, bought an instructional video and taught herself how to vault at 65 years old.
According to CNN, Meiler, who lives in Shelburne, Vermont, got her start in track and field while on the tennis court. She was training for the Senior Olympics in singles, double and mixed doubles when a friend said, “we need people in track and field desperately, and I think you would be good at it. When you’re done with tennis, come over and try the long jump.’”
She agreed, and fell head over heels in love with track and field at 60 years old. It helped that she also had a natural talent for many events. The first time she competed in the long jump, she placed fourth out of 25 women. Then, she tied for third place in the high jump.
As for pole vaulting, she got the bug to learn after watching other women during a meet.
“I was at a senior meet, and I saw some ladies doing it, and it didn’t look like they were going very high. I always like challenges, and I said, ‘Boy, this looks like a real good challenge for me.’ That’s why I took it up,’ she told CNN. “It’s the most difficult sport, and it’s also the most challenging. It’s the most rewarding, I think”
The highest she’s ever vaulted is 6’8,” and she went 6’3″ when she set the world record for women in the 75+ age group.
Meiler, who also competes in the triple jump, hammer throw, discus, shot put, hurdles, 50m run, 100m run and 200m run, has more than 25 world records to her name, and more than 700 medals in her home.
Growing up, she was a member of a water ski club in upstate New York, according to the Burlington Free Press, and even put on shows for those who visited the lake.
“There was a little girl who would climb up on my shoulders,” Meiler said. “Boy, I really did a lot of things.”
Like water skiing, pole vaulting takes tremendous core strength, which Meiler says she’s had her entire life.
She trains three days a week on the track, and spends two additional days in the weight room. As for her diet, she keeps it clean but every once in a while, likes to indulge in French fries and chocolate-covered almonds.
As for injuries, she’s pulled her hamstring a number of times and received stitches in her knee when she clipped it on a barrier during the steeplechase. Other than that, she’s been charging hard — Just like an 83-year-old great-grandmother is capable of doing.