Local jumper is leaps and bounds above the rest
By Adam Modzelesky, 04/07/2004

There is nothing Bruce McBarnette can't do.

At 45, McBarnette is a Princeton graduate who practices primarily contract and real estate law in Sterling. He's a member of the Screen Actor's Guild. He's been on television shows such as "Law & Order" and "The West Wing."

He's been in films such as "The Recruit" with Al Pacino and "The Paper" with Robert Duvall.

And now, barely into middle age, McBarnette is the world record holder for his age and nine-time national champion in the high jump.

Last weekend, McBarnette won the National Masters USA Track and Field Championship in Boston, Mass., with a jump of 6 feet 2 inches – two inches short of his world record of 6 feet 4 inches.

"There used to be a time, several years, when I would take the silver or the bronze. It feels good to consistently get the gold now," McBarnette said. "I have never performed less than a bronze in a national tournament."

McBarnette mostly credits his rigorous training regiment for his success. His season begins in February and doesn't end until September. Then, in the off-season, he continues working out with weights, doing sprint and distance running, and running up stairs. He said the Lincoln Memorial has become is personal "training tool."

"What's helped me is that I never stop training," he said. "A lot of athletes take breaks and come back. It's hard to gain what you've lost in the interim."

It also helped that he was coached by one of the sport's elite coaches: Fred Samara. Samara, now the Princeton Tigers' head track coach, was McBarnette's jump coach back when he competed collegiately. Samara competed in the 1976 Olympic Games in the decathlon event, and later served as head coach for the 1982 U.S. decathlon team, which competed in Leningrad.

McBarnette certainly followed in his tutor's footsteps. Along with his nine national championships, McBarnette has also been featured in Sports Illustrated and was named Athlete of the Year in his age group by USA Track and Field in 2003.

"I will continue competing for as a long as I'm healthy," McBarnette said. "I have been fortunate that I can avoid injuries pretty well, to the extent that I heal fast. You're always competing against people your approximate age, so there's no limit on how long I can compete."

But age isn't a factor at this point – McBarnette competes in open tournaments that feature some of the best college talent in the nation. The last time he competed in such an event, he finished second.

"I feel blessed and gifted," he said.

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