Florence Meiler didn’t start pole vaulting until she was 65 years old. Now 84, the Vermont athlete is still vaulting her way into the history books.
After ending a 30-year career as a sales rep, Meiler began competing in track and field “for fun” at the age of 60. Today, she holds 26 world records, 20 U.S. records and her home is decorated with more than 750 medals.
She started her athletic career competing in events like the high jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin and triple jump, but when she saw women her age pole vaulting, she thought that because the bar was relatively low, she could take on the challenge as well.
So, she bought a “how to pole vault” video and got to work. At the age of 80, she cleared a six-foot bar and set the world record for her age group.
That’s Meiler, the athlete, but Meiler, the human being, is just as impressive.
She and her husband, Eugene, have been married for 60 years, and the two adopted three children after losing three of their own.
“I think when you’re active and keep healthy, if there are moments in your life that are really depressing, you’re going to be able to put up with the sad moments in your life,” Meiler told the BBC. “It has helped me an awful lot, to be active; not to sit in the corner and feel sorry for yourself.
According to the Burlington Free Press, she trains about five days a week, incorporating weight training, running, tennis and throwing.
“I just love keeping in shape,” Meiler told the Winston-Salem Journal. “A lot of people ask me how I keep doing this, and I say, ‘Well, it’s not that easy but you just keep going.’ It’s a wonderful feeling when people come up to you and tell you what an inspiration I am to them to get off the couch and be active.”
In fact, many 20-year-olds could take a page out of this 84-year-old’s book.
Keep soaring, Florence Meiler.