A local athlete had quite a showing last weekend at the Arkansas State Senior Olympic Games.
Jerry McBride, a 74-year-old Van Buren resident, finished first in five different events at the event, which was held in Hot Springs.
Competing in the 75-79 age group, he set a new state record in winning the high jump (at four feet), and also won first-place medals in the long jump (10 feet), triple jump (23 feet), pole vault (seven feet) and the javelin (88 feet). McBride also took second place in the shot put (28 feet) and the discus (77 feet).
“I just lost a little bit of weight again to get ready for the meet,” McBride said. “That always helps, especially the high jump, long jump and the pole vault. … I had a good meet.
“A lot of the events were between me and another fellow. I think he beat me in one or two of the events and then I beat him in the other, but it was real close.”
McBride said the previous record in the high jump had been at 3-foot-11.
“It took about 30 years to get up that high at that age group but I don’t know how long that 3-11 stood,” he said. “It didn’t sound like much but at that age, gravity kind of works against you.
“I just went back to the way I jumped when I competed in high school.”
In July, McBride also took part in the National Senior Olympic Games, held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. He competed in seven field events, placing in five of those with a best finish of second place in the pole vault.
It was the fifth time McBride has competed in the National Senior Games.
“The best competitors in all the states go to nationals; you’ve got to qualify by being one of the top in your state, and so the competition really hits stiff there,” McBride said. “But three different times I’ve gotten second place in the pole vault but I never have gotten first at the national event.”
McBride, a Van Buren graduate, also played basketball at Fort Smith Junior College (now UAFS) while playing football and running track at the College of the Ozarks (now University of the Ozarks) in Clarksville. He was a teacher and coach for many years before retiring more than a decade ago.
A main reason McBride is able to stay in shape to compete in the Senior Olympic events is an extensive training schedule. It includes going to the track at Van Buren.
“I go practice when the high school teams are working out,” McBride said. “I’ll go down there and high jump on their mats and I pole vault; they let me high jump and pole vault, practice long jumping and triple jumping, all that stuff and I practice my throwing events there. That’s part of it, staying in shape and practicing.”
McBride has also collected a bevy of medals and trophies from the events he has taken part in over the years, which line the walls of the game room in his Van Buren residence. But he noted last year, he donated about 80 of those medals to the Special Olympics.
As far as competing in any future athletic events, McBride was quick to respond.
“Keep doing it as long as I can,” he said.