Willie Banks soars 6 feet at 56; Christa adds two more WRs

Willie after M55 record.

Willie Banks, the USATF director and Hall of Famer, says he prepared for the high jump at the San Diego Senior Olympics by — losing weight. Looks like it helped. After slimming down from 203 to 183 pounds this year, he straddled 1.83 meters (6 feet 0) to beat Jim Barrineau’s 1.80 American record from Lisle nationals in August. Then he barely missed 1.88 (6-2), which would have been a world record. But the star of the show at San Diego Mesa College (whose teams name is the Olympians) was W75 Christa Bortignon of Vancouver, BC. She ran 17-something in the 80-meter hurdles and sprinted 200 in 33.39 to set her 11th and 12th world records this season, by her count. The listed W75 WR is 34.40 by Germany’s Paula Schneiderhan at Durban worlds in 1997. See photos of the meet by Tom Coat.

Christa says she’ll try again for the 100-meter world record —— either at the Nevada Senior Games or the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah.

Masters track founder David Pain witnessed part of the meet, held in high 80s and humid conditions, along with close friend Monty Hacker of South Africa, the former WAVA and WMA officer.

M95 record guy Leland McPhie, 98, also watched from a shade tent. But he says he works out every other day at a local YMCA, doing a circuit of a dozen machines, and hopes to break M100 records “if I’m still alive,” he told me with a smile.

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September 22, 2012

16 Responses

  1. Ken Stone - September 23, 2012

    Results for the Fifth Avenue Mile are in:

    Sid Howard took second in M70, keeping his Fifth Ave. race entry streak alive.

  2. ventsi - September 23, 2012

    All I can say is that such great masters athletes simply renew my taste of life. So encouraging!

  3. Peter Taylor - September 23, 2012

    At first I thought there had been a mistake — 6 feet in the high jump at age 56 by a triple jumper? No, it’s reality, and I congratulate Willie for his brilliant jump.

    Christa Bortignon is out of sight — I will ask some runners at the fitness club today what they think a woman in the 75-79 group could do in the 200. Don’t think anyone will say under 34 seconds, but Christa ran 33.39, as indicated.

    In the 80 hurdles, I love how Christa alternated her lead leg and then drove hard to the finish.

  4. Anonymous - September 23, 2012

    I am wondering if Christas record will count. I think she needs a lane of hurdles on either side of her She didn’t have at least three runners in her race. This is for USATF rules, does anyone know if it is the same for world records.

  5. Matt McCubbins - September 23, 2012

    What a great way to top off what Ken recently described as an amazing year for high jumpers. Congrats Willie! I was so happy for the video clip and a chance to see Willie’s mythical 3-step straddle technique. Man, talk about pure power jumping.

    I wonder if Willie was aware that he didn’t need 1.88 to break the world record. 1.85 would have done the trick and it looked to me like he would have cleared it easily based on how close A2 was at 1.88. Nonetheless, a fantastic effort and I hope he finds another opportunity to jump before the end of the season. Bravo!!

  6. Ken Stone - September 23, 2012

    I should have checked the WR after Willie jumped the AR. But I was worried about getting to my 200 in time, and the heat numbed my brain. Willie will go 6-1 fersure someday.

  7. grant lamothe - September 23, 2012

    You go Christa, what performances -the Greyhounds (our club) are all proud of you! Your hurdling is really looking good, you’re way smoother than last year, you’ve obviously worked hard going over those barriers. See you in Vancouver -Grant L.

    ps: Willie, how do you get so much spring from a 3-step runup?! What you do is amazing.

  8. Ken Stone - September 23, 2012

    AOL is teasing the Willie Banks story from its homepage now (Sunday morning). The video is going viral!

  9. Ken Stone - September 23, 2012

    Christa writes:

    My time for the 80m hurdles was 17.71, the long jump was 3.30 (10-10), the triple jump was 7.68m (25-2 1/2), and the 100m was 16.46. One small correction. When you asked me about my best previous 200m I had told you 34.40. It was actually 34.04, so getting under 34 was my goal for this year. Same, my goal for the 100m was getting under the 16 seconds, I did it only once but I have two more chances.

  10. Weia Reinboud - September 23, 2012

    @Anonymous: as far as I know this is OK for world records.

  11. Jim Barrineau - September 23, 2012

    I believe Willie tried 1.88 since Carlo Thranhardt (newly minted M55) went 1.87 last month in Eberstadt. After watching Willie go 1.86 in Sacto at 2010 Nationals, I knew there was more where that came from. Also, Peter, I think Willie had a 7’1″ from his UCLA days which equals Bruce McBarnette’s PR. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, Congrats Willie!

  12. Peter Taylor - September 24, 2012

    Thanks, Jim. Yes, I could have phrased it differently, as the high jump and triple jump are very compatible events, and thus it should be no surprise that someone could stand out in both.

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this performance is that it was achieved with a 3-step approach (see Grant LaMothe, above).

  13. Matt McCubbins - September 24, 2012

    Oh my gosh Jim I totally spaced that out. Duh. I wasn’t even thinking about that when I checked the WMA records site, and they have not posted Carlo’s mark yet. Hard to keep up with all these new records! I’m glad I wasn’t there to give Willie the wrong information. Thanks for the kind reminder!

  14. Rob Jerome - September 24, 2012

    Both Willie and Christa seem to be pushing Masters T&F into some exciting, uncharted territory. And Christa only started about 3 years ago, I believe. Amazing.

  15. annelies steekelenburg - September 24, 2012

    The whole HJ competition had been 3-8 instead of the usual 0-5 from the start, moving the bar up 5 cm. at a time That is how the bar ended up at 1.83 and 1.88.
    When Willie, who came straight from the TJ to the HJ made the 1.83, he did not know he had jumped a record till Ken looked it up.
    What a treat to watch it!

  16. Jim Barrineau - September 24, 2012

    Pete, you are absolutely right. The power Willie has to generate at takeoff is phenomenal with a three step (Ron Livers was another world class triple jumper with amazing ups (7-4) in the HJ, but in the flop.) The fact that he did it after coming over from the TJ makes it even more impressive. Thomas Zacharias used a walk-in four step on all his records. One thing that Bruce McBarnette, Thranhardt, Zacharias and Willie have in common are very long legs which can generate a great deal of power. That’s what makes Bruce’s jumps look so deceptively easy. Even when he has a less than stellar approach, he can pull it out with a very powerful lead leg swing.

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