Dick Harmon: 38-year old Utahn amazingly soars 7 feet, 1 inch in the high jump

Published: Monday, April 29 2013 5:55 p.m. MDT

Hoffman uses the Fosbury Flop in that he twists his body in the air and goes over the bar with his back to the ground and his face to the sky. He lands 1 to 2 feet farther in the cushion than others.

On Saturday, Hoffman’s nearest competitor was BYU freshman Sam Rockwood. Rockwood was still in the competition at 7-1 and was winning. If I would have missed my third attempt Rockwood would have won. After making the height I declined to raise the bar because there's one more meet I wanted to jump at and knew I had already bitten off more than I could chew, as far as my body was concerned," said Hoffman.

“To still have that much spring in his legs is really quite spectacular,” said Cherrington. It was fascinating to see him come out. He was excellent.”

Said Hoffman: I was like a little kid jumping around going crazy. It reminded me of old times again. I was really surprised. My body is so beat up after those jumps at Weber State and USU that I can't practice, I only jump at meets."

Hoffman was part of one of the very best high jump competitions Cherrington had ever seen some 16 years ago in Provo. At the time he was competing for the Aggies and was caught in a three-way duel with Weber State’s Charles Clinger and Mark Chen of BYU. These guys all cleared 7-2 and when the bar was raised to 7-4, they all missed. They had a jump off that day and Chen won.

"Those guys pushed me to go 7-6 back then. If I hadn't competited against them at nationals, I'd never have gone that high."

Hoffman said he has always been a believer that if someone enjoys doing something they should keep doing it, even if they're past their prime or afraid of making a fool of them self. To me it's not always about the results but just doing something you enjoy.

"I try to encourage young athletes to get past others expectations of success and to just do what they enjoy, regardless of their current skill level, and they'll improve from their work and joy.

"I should have never ended up jumping in college, in high school I believe my best was 6'-3", which doesn't get you on a team. When I returned home from a lds mission in 1996 I enrolled at UVSC and happened to see a flyer that they were starting a track team and to attend a meeting if interested.

"I showed up and after the meeting approached the then coach, Jed Gibson, and told him I wasn't very good but that I really liked high jump and he said that was okay that they were accepting everyone that year as it was the first time they were doing track and field.

"It took me four or five months just to get to 6 feet again but Jed was patient and never made me feel unwelcome. After that things just seemed to click and little by little I kept improving, earned a scholarship and competed with some of the best in the world, something I never thought possible when I started out.

"I've had lots of setbacks, with 5 ankle surgeries and a torn acl, financial problems and a bout with depression but I'll never regret at least giving it a shot. All the setbacks brought my wife and I closer together and helped me to appreciate the more important things in life, family."

Hoffman was once an All-American at USU, but is into the second decade since those days of daily training, competing and getting coached and prepared with everything from a regular regiment to diet.

But on this day he sailed off the earth better than anyone around him.

Good job, Dave.

Maybe we can all take a more determined leap today.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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