84-year-old Vermont woman travels to Poland to participate in pole vault championship


Most people would agree that it's important to stay active in the last years of life, but Florence "Flo" Fillion Meiler, 84, brings this to a new level.

The Vermont native will travel to Poland on Thursday for the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championship where she will compete in competitions such as the long jump, the 60 meter hurdles, the 800 meter, the pentathlon and her specialty, the pole vault.

His favorite events are hurdles and pole vaulting – the sport that allows competitors to jump on a fixed bar with a fiberglass mast.

"You really have to work on that," she says. "You must have the top kernel and timing, and I love it because it's hard."

In this category, she will literally have no competition – as she is the only woman in her age group of 80 to 84 years old. Despite her easy victory, she does not slow down.

"You know, I'm training five days a week," she says. "And when I knew I was going to the Worlds, I trained six days a week because I knew my body was going to be in good shape."

Meiler grew up on a dairy farm, working hard as crafts, feeding cattle and hay. She has always been active in the sport throughout her school career, playing basketball and taking tap lessons and ballroom dancing. On a professional level, she then worked as a representative of Herbalife nutritional supplements for 30 years.

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When she met her husband, Eugene, a military pilot turned financial analyst, the two men competed in water skiing. It was only at the age of 65 that she went on to pole vault under the encouragement of a friend with whom she played at the same time. doubles tennis competition.

Staying active helped Meiler and her husband through difficult times, she said, as they adopted three children after losing two of their babies prematurely and one to three years old. Two years ago, his adopted son died at the age of 51.


Unfortunately, Meiler also says that he misses his training partner: a good friend who started having health problems about five years ago and can no longer train. She now hopes to find a new partner to play sports with, because it can be harder to train alone.

His coach, however, has shown his strength and commitment to his sport.

"She's incredibly serious about what she's doing," coach Emmaline Berg said. "She arrives early to make sure she's warmed up enough." She goes home and stretches a lot, so she structures her whole life as a fantastic athlete, which is remarkable at any age, not to mention his. "

"She looked like a local celebrity," she continued.

Meiler had already set a record at the age of 80 after taking a 6-foot pole vault at the Adirondack US Track and Field Championships in Albany, New York.


"I was screaming, I was so happy," she said.

When she embarks for Poland next week, she hopes to set new records and continue to be a role model for other seniors.

Associated Press contributed to the writing of this article.


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