2009-09-03 / Local & State

Duvall Earns High Marks At Senior Games

72-year-old takes tops honors in the high jump
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Robert Duvall Robert Duvall Having taken the gold earlier this summer at the Pennsylvania Senior Games, Robert Duvall is already preparing for next year when he hopes to set a new personal record in the high jump for his age division.

A native of the Crystal Spring area, Duvall began competing in the popular annual event for seniors at the age of 57. Twentyfive years later, the 72-year-old has accrued a multitude of gold and silver medallions as well as a good outlook on life and staying fit.

Duvall, who now resides a stone's throw away from his homeplace on the Fulton /Bedford County line, stated his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Mc- Cormick, served as his inspiration and motivator in getting him interested in the senior games all those years ago. An avid swimmer and former participant in the senior games, McCormick participated annually in the summer competition.

Duvall wound up meeting a high-jump competitor, who shared his story and jump record. Thinking to himself he could possibly beat the acquaintance, Duvall laid out a workout schedule and began retraining himself in the western roll approach that he first learned as a member of the Southern Fulton High School track and field team.

Robert Duvall of Breezewood clears the four foot mark and earns top marks during the high jump at the Pennsylvania Senior Games held recently in York. Duvall competed in the 70 to 74 age division. Robert Duvall of Breezewood clears the four foot mark and earns top marks during the high jump at the Pennsylvania Senior Games held recently in York. Duvall competed in the 70 to 74 age division. Soon, however, with advice from Everett track coach Sue Conner, Duvall revised his jumping technique to use the "Fosbury Flop," which involves racing toward the bar in a curved approach, lifting off with the left foot, pivoting the right leg backward and sailing over the bar backward, stretching the back and flipping the legs upward. In 1968, Dick Fosbury set both a personal and Olympic record of 7 feet, 4 inches with this new style.

The adjustment has paid off for Duvall, who in 1997 received a gold medal at the Keystone State Games in Harrisburg and broke the state record with a jump of 4 feet, 9 inches. The record remained intact for three years. This year at the 29th annual Pennsylvania Senior Games held in York Duvall took firstplace in the 70 to 74 age division with a jump of four feet.

Duvall, as in past years, also participated in the free throw, hot shot and 21 shootout basketball categories. He noted that in addition to being a member of his high school track and field team participating in the pole vault, long jump and high jump, he was also on the varsity basketball squad before graduating in 1956.

Saying he was likely graced with his dad's athleticism, Duvall's love of sports was passed along to his daughter and in turn his granddaughters, Marissa and Lindsay, who are members of the Everett track and field squad. Marissa, coincidentally, also does the high jump in addition to being a runner.

Looking back at the annual games held in late July, Duvall stated he hadn't had the opportunity to train as in prior years, leaving his exercise to daily timbering for Duvall's Lumber Co. In spite of brushing the bar during his first jump of 3 feet, 6 inches, he continued to progress and beat out two additional competitors for his age division.

He said while competing in high school he often dreamed of competing at a state level and now has fulfilled that dream through the senior games.

"I'm blessed to have the health that enables me to participate," he stated. "I attribute my vitality to my faith in God." Duvall went on to quote Philippians 4:13 which says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"The games offer seniors an opportunity to stay active and fun. The opportunity to compete is a good motivator to stay fit and over the years you make new acquaintances in friendly rivalry," said Duvall. He encourages everyone to remain active, regardless of their age, and hopes his story will serve as an inspiration to others.

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