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Golden Inspiration: Starting Something New at an "Old" Age

By Katie Gilbert

Golden Inspiration Flo Meiler

Flo Meiler started pole vaulting at the age of 65. She was on the tennis court practicing for the Senior Olympics when her now training partner told her that the track and field category needed more people. Her partner thought that Flo would be a good fit for the sport. 

“Don’t look at me” said Flo, who had never done track and field before. Her running experience was limited to sprinting on the tennis court in order to hit the green tennis flying through the air. She could have left the offer alone but Flo decided to give it a try and immediately fell in love with the sport.

Flo Meiler Pole Vaulting


Becoming a World-Class Pole Vaulter

Walking over to the other women throwing themselves through the air while pole vaulting, Flo saw their leaps as a fun challenges. She took it up herself, hurling herself over 5-foot poles, later leading her to 15 world records and 12 U.S. records as of 2011.

Not many, at any age, would take up a new challenge like pole vaulting. In fact, as most aging adults get older their physical activity decreases dramatically leading to increased rates in falls, stroke, heart attacks, and other health problems.

For Flo, the opposite has been true. Physical activity has been a large part of her life but she is actually more active now than she ever has been. The increase in physical activity came when she discovered a new passion for a new sport. 

Since Flo first picked up the pole to start pole vaulting, she bought an instructional video for herself to teach herself more about the sport. It was only a year and half later that she got a private coach and started practicing with her partner, Barbara Miller.

Legacy of Determination

Sure, there were times when she was tired or didn't want to get out of her warm bed, but her sheer love for the sport and knowing that Barbara was waiting for her to start practicing, kept her going. Now, pole vaulting has taken her far since she joined in her 60s. She has since competed in the Senior Games over 10 times and is an inspiration to thousands — most notably to other adults over the age of 50.

Flo told CNN that she advises other aging adults to try picking up new sports saying, “It’s never too late. If I can take up track and field at 60, anybody can take up another sport at age 50 and up.”

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Katie Gilbert author bio

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