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What They Were Thinking

A leap of faith

Leland McPhie, 100, attempted to clear the bar at a practice during the USA Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

100-year-old LELAND McPHIE leaves his cane behind and practices at the USA Track and Field National Masters Indoor Championships held at the Reggie Lewis Center. Although he did not clear the bar in his three official attempts, he became the oldest man to attempt a high jump at an indoor track meet, March 15, 2014 — “I just thought, I’ve got to go faster but I haven’t run before. That’s the first time I tried to jump in seven years. I had a mild stroke a few years ago and the doctor wouldn’t let me run. Then I had cancer and I was out of commission for quite a while. I feel all right. I think if I practiced four or five more times I could have made it. I’m learning all over again what to do. I was trying to get up some speed — part of me cleared, [but] I didn’t know how my legs would move or anything. No, I wasn’t happy. I was hoping I’d clear the bar at least once. I jumped 6-feet tall — 6-2 in college [at San Diego State]. Less than a month ago I had my physical with my heart doctor. I said, ‘Doc, how much more can I go?’ And he said 10 or 15 more years. I think I can do better by practicing. On my high jump, I can go higher after I get my form down. I enjoy [being famous]. My family enjoys it. The hardest part? I haven’t found anything hard.”

Stan Grossfeld can be reached at grossfeld@globe.com.