Olympic high jump champ Charles Austin quietly sets M45 WR

Charles Austin, the USATF Hall of Famer and Atlanta Olympic high jump champion with a best of 2.40 (7-10 1/2), has made a big splash in a small-pond meet. M45 Charles cleared a world-record 2.05 (6-8 3/4) at the South Texas USATF Association meet Saturday in San Marcos, according to his local paper. The mark tops the listed WR of 2.04 (6-8 1/4) by Italy’s Marco Segatel in 2007. It also displaces the listed American record of 2.00 (6-6¾) by Bruce McBarnette in 2006 — which was a world record at the time. “A lot of people around here haven’t really seen me jump before,” Charles was quoted as saying. “When people heard about this meet, they were like, ‘Hey. Come out and jump.’ Two weeks ago, I decided I would do it.”

Tyler Mayforth took this photo of record jump for the San Marcos (aptly named) Record.

Tyler Mayforth photo of record jump for the San Marcos (aptly named) Record.

Here’s how the San Marcos Record described the record:

Charles Austin wasn’t worried when he hit the bar on his first two attempts at a Masters world record.

“I set the American record on my last jump,” Austin recalled. “I won the Olympics on my last jump. I won the World Championships on my last jump. So pressure doesn’t bother me. It causes me to focus a little bit more. Once I dial it in, it’s no problem.”

Whatever the case, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist in the high jump stepped up and cleared 6 feet, 8 3/4 inches on his third and final attempt at Saturday’s USA Track and Field South Texas Association Championships.

Austin’s jump of [2.05] meters was a world record in the men’s Masters class for his age group (45-50). The 46-year old, who lives in San Marcos and graduated from Texas State, broke the previous mark set by Italy’s Marco Segatel in 2007. Segatel cleared 2.04 meters (6 feet, 8 inches) at the Internationales Hochsprung-Meeting Eberstadt, which is an annual highjumping competition in Germany.

What made setting the record even more special for Austin was having his son Allex there to see it first-hand. Allex Austin — a two-time state champion high jumper at San Marcos High School, who now competes at Baylor on an athletic scholarship — stood a few feet from where his father took off and captured each moment on his iPhone.

“It was awesome to see this,” said Allex Austin, who was 2 years old when his father won gold in 1996. “I don’t even really remember watching it. I was in Hawaii at the time. And so, I haven’t seen my dad compete like this very often. I was really excited just to be a part of it. This means a lot to me.”

Charles Austin’s jump of 7 feet, 10 inches during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, was a new Olympic record, which still stands today.

To accomplish that feat, the 6-foot-1-inch former Olympian jumped 22 inches more than his height. He also competed in the 1992 and 2000 Olympic Games in Barcelona and Sydney and took home gold during the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.

All of those records happened far from home, though. So, Charles Austin was excited to get a chance to compete in the place he calls home.

“A lot of people around here haven’t really seen me jump before,” he said. “When people heard about this meet, they were like, ‘Hey. Come out and jump.’ Two weeks ago, I decided I would do it.”

Before Charles Austin lined up for his final attempt, a crowd of young jumpers gathered around as a call was heard over the PA system at Texas State’s Track and Field Complex to watch what could be a world record. After Charles Austin cleared the bar, Allex Austin gave his dad a highfive.

“This was fun,” Charles Austin said.

“It was a cool opportunity. Those memories of the Olympics are still there. But these are new memories. I am very happy with what I’ve been able to do. This was just another challenge that was presented to me — there will be many more.”

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June 23, 2014

5 Responses

  1. Ken Stone - June 23, 2014

    I wrote former M40 record-holder Jim Barrineau about his fellow Olympian, and Jim replied: “If Topic can go 2.28 at 41, I see no reason Austin can’t do 2.14 at 45. Charles has kept his engine running since retirement.”

    In other words, Jim thinks Charles can be the oldest 7-footer on record.

  2. wayne bennett - June 23, 2014

    This is not Charles’s first masters meet. He competed as an open division at a meet called the Hill Country Classic in Mason, Texas and really wowed us older guys. Wonder if he remembers that. It was an absolutely great meet and many of us Texans remember it as one of our all time favorite meets. the next lane over from you might have a rattle snake or roadrunner in it.

  3. tb - June 25, 2014

    Not that quietly. He’s USATF Athlete of the Week:


  4. Ken Stone - June 25, 2014

    Thanks for heads up, TB. I meant to check. (I nominated Charles for AoY).

  5. Miriam Canziani - June 30, 2014

    Sorry people but I am from Argentina and my youngest son is a high jumper whose best jump has been 2,08 mt . He is 18 and we would need a piece of advice from you since we are looking for an american university in which he could apply for a sport scholarship to study Law menwhile he goes on practising and getting better mark.- Thank you and regards.-
    Miriam Canziani

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