BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The last time Jim Segroves found himself flying through the air was 43 years ago as a pole vaulter for East Texas State University. The 65-year-old is now making his return to the runway and as you can imagine, getting back in shape hasn’t been easy.
“Over a year ago, when I started training, I started running and sprinting to early before I lost enough weight and ended up tearing the meniscus in my knee," Segroves told WLOX. "So that set me back about six months.”
So why suffer the pain of coming out of retirement? Motivation, to compete as well as getting the chance to teach the next generation, his daughter, Julie.
“When I was little, I would climb up walls because I would have a hallway in my house," Julie said. "I would climb them all the time and I would do flips on my bed. That’s when my parents realized that I had the ability.”
From the day she was born, Jim knew that someday he wanted to teach Julie how to pole vault. The two started training when she was in the second grade and Julie jumped five feet almost immediately.
Julie is quickly becoming one of the best young pole vaulters in Mississippi. In her first-ever meet at the AAU Region 11 qualifier in Hammond, Louisiana, Julie surprised everyone and won 1st place with a jump of eight feet, qualifying her to participate the AAU Junior Olympics in North Carolina.
The 12-year-old has also participated in gymnastics since the age of four. In 2018, Julie won the Mississippi State Championship in all four events in Level 8. Her being a gymnast helps tremendously to master the elements needed to pole vault.
“It’s given me the strength to do it and it’s given me more confidence of flying through the air," Julie told WLOX. "When you’re in gymnastics, you do all these flips in the air and I’m just used to it.”
Given the age differences, Julie has never seen her dad in action until the perfect opportunity arose.
“I read an article about the Mississippi State Games over a year ago. When I read it, I learned that there was no age requirements that the old guys couldn’t compete with the young kids," Jim said. "I thought that would be the perfect meet for me and Julie to compete together in.”
Not only did they compete, they dominated, both jumping seven feet and six inches to take home first place in Meridian, MS.
“I was pretty amazed because you don’t see 65-year-old men doing pole vaulting at that age, so I was like this is so cool,” Julie said.
“I just thought it was really neat for one time to be able to have her cheer me on," Jim told WLOX. "I was looking forward to that.”
In the end, the ultimate reward is not only the time they’ve spent together, but the bond they’ve created.
“He hasn’t gotten a medal in a long time and I was just very happy to see him happy," Julie said. "That made me feel really good.”
“That was one thing that I could check off my bucket list was competing in a pole vault event with my daughter. We did it and to make it even more special it was the day before Father’s Day," Jim told WLOX. "If I broke my leg and could never compete again, I would be a happy man still now that I did that.”
Jim and Julie will continue to compete, as a duo, as they prepare for the USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships in Ames, Iowa later in July.