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Sterling man soars to high jump record

Bruce McBarnette glides above the high jump bar during the USA Masters Track and Field Championships July 19 at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.—Courtesy Photo
As a freshman football player at Princeton University, Bruce McBarnette decided to join the Tigers' track and field team as a way to stay in shape during the off-season.

Within a year, McBarnette was one of Princeton's top high jumpers. Excelling under the guidance of former USA Olympic team coach Larry Ellis and former Olympian Fred Samara, he stopped playing football and made track his sport of choice.

Now 37 years later, McBarnette continues to clear record-setting heights in the high jump.

McBarnette, 56, of Sterling, delivered his latest record-setting performance July 19 at the USA Masters Track and Field Championships in North Carolina. He cleared 6-feet and one-third inches (1.84 meters) to set a United States outdoor record for men ages 55 and older.

"I never stopped competing after college," McBarnette said of what has led to his long-term success. "A lot of athletes stop somewhere between college and the time they start competing in masters. So all the people that were better than me when I was in my 20s, I'm now better than them."

McBarnette also owns the world indoor high jump record for his age group at 6-2. His personal record is 7-1, set at the Rutgers Relays in 1984. Overall, McBarnette has won nine World Championships for his age group and 27 USA Track and Field Masters National Championships.

"For me, the concept of being able to jump over my head is pretty thrilling," said McBarnette, who stands 6 feet 2 inches tall. "It's still amazing to me that I can jump over my head."

Along with his track prowess, McBarnette is a motivational speaker, hosts charitable events and is the president of the Summit Connection real estate investment firm. He is a former legal counsel to the United States Senate and has had acting roles on multiple TV shows and movies ranging from "Law and Order" to "Deep Impact."

Despite his hectic schedule, McBarnette makes time to compete in track and field events worldwide. A member of the Potomac Valley Track Club, McBarnette estimates he competes in 14 events per year.

"I feel as if God has given me a gift and I want to make the most use of it," he said. "I like to be a positive role model to younger people and to older people about the importance of lifetime fitness. I like to show people that you can continue going in your athletic activities no matter what age you are."


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