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Apple Blossom Festival organizers announced on Friday that Winchester native and noted pole vaulter Charlie Polhamus is slated to appear as a sports guest at this year's event.
Polhamus was born in Winchester in 1943 and attended Handley High School. In 1961, he was the Virginia state pole vault champion back in the days when schools were not separated by size.
After high school, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps and is a Vietnam veteran. As he aged, Polhamus always stayed in shape and never lost his desire to participate in athletic competitions. As other pole-vaulters lost their skills, Polhamus did not; and, in Masters' and Seniors' competitions, he has consistently excelled within his age group.
Some career highlights:
• Two-time World Master Champion: 1983 San Juan and 1985 Rome;
• Eight Indoor and Outdoor Masters' World Records
• 25-time US Masters' National Champion;
• 10-year NIKE product endorsement athlete;
• Ranked No. 1 in the world from 1977-1987 in Masters' Pole Vault;
• USA Track & Field certified official;
• Georgia high school certified coach;
• Pole vault coach for Fitzgerald High School state champions in 1987,1988,1989,1990;
• Most memorable sporting experience: Competing against 135 vaulters from 34 countries at the Masters' World Championships in the Olympic Stadium in Rome in 1985 and, not only capturing the Gold Medal, but shattering the then world record twice in the process.
"I vaulted indoors at Clemson University this year and [clearing] that height makes the 37th year in a row that I have attained All American status!," Polhamus said in a news release.
Polhamus is married to the former Debbie Kennedy and they live in Fitzgerald, Ga. They have three children: Toby (41), Marcee (30), and Annie (24); and four grandchildren.
Festival organizers are still working out the details of Polhamus's schedule. He may arrive in time to attend a full schedule of Festival events on Friday and Saturday, and will be a featured speaker at the Wells-Fargo Sports Breakfast on Saturday, May 5.
The sports breakfast begins at 8 a.m., at the Winchester Moose Lodge.