Kay Glynn

Kay GlynnKay Glynn, 60
Hastings, Iowa

Beating the Odds

Kay Glynn loves to move – acrobatics, dancing, sports, you name it. She still can’t resist doing handstands to warm up before track and field events, which she took back up at the age of 48. Her senior games career has seen much success, including six gold medals and a new pole vaulting world record for her age in Houston at the 2011 National Senior Games Presented by Humana. Kay was eager to do it all again in Cleveland two years later.

But there’s been a hitch-actually a hip-thrown into her plans. A total hip replacement is looming in her future, but by carefully adjusting her training, medication, and therapy, Kay is finding a path and the determination to return to the games in July. The motivation isn’t to return to golden glory, it’s to overcome the obstacle and have another opportunity to hang out with old friends and make new ones in the special atmosphere that permeates the National Senior Games.  Follow her story each month and see how she inspires those around her.

Click Here to Read about Kay Glynn's NSGA Personal Best Journey


Kay is never at a loss for words, regardless of how her competition goes. The good news is that she won gold in long jump and bronze in triple jump. The bad news: she “no heighted” in her premier event, the pole vault. But the experience was drama in sport at the highest level.

(Photo by Miriam Creach/Brooks Institute © 2013)

We witnessed a tremendously courageous effort given her hip condition and that Kay went “all or nothing” in her vault strategy. You see, she wanted to set a new record for her age level and could only endure a few approaches- jumping and landing was no problem, it’s the running that aggravated her hip.  So Kay set the bar at a still-challenging 7’ 8” with the notion that she could make that on first try and then move it up a couple of notches to go for the record.  She had cleared that first setting many times in practice and surely could get over in three tries. But it was not to be.

She could have set the bar lower and guaranteed herself a medal. But the competitor in Kay Glynn would not allow for her to take “the easy way out.” We applaud that fearless effort.

Kay also stole the show at our Personal Best Tour event in Cleveland during the Games. Asked if her hip condition would prevent her from doing her signature warm-ups of cartwheels and handstands at the track, Kay defiantly launched into a 3 minute “Old Time Rock and Roll” acrobatic dance routine that delighted the gathering. Click below to view.

In Kay’s words:

OK. I felt like Marlo Thomas at the games-people would point and say, "Are you.....THAT girl?" I loved visiting with the tons of people who immediately made me feel like we'd met before. They said they'd followed my story and wished me well. I heard nothing but good comments about the whole NSGA experience.  It was a class act.  Cleveland rocks!

It was exciting and so cool to be associated with the first event in the new convention center- I loved my dancing experience in the Personal Best show! It was so great to have the representative from the President’s fitness council there to see and feel what the NSGA is all about.  She surely had to be impressed by such a huge event that is geared to promote physical fitness for us baby boomers and others.

Pole vaulting: It was definitely a "coulda, woulda, shoulda" day. I was confident with my plan as I entered the games, but given all the circumstances that I had not foreseen, I should have taken a different approach.  I just wanted it all.  No heighting was a first for me, and in the vaulter's world, we all feel for the no heighter, no matter what their age.  But an experienced world record holder and good friend, Gary Hunter, watched me and knew what I was feeling.  He took me by the shoulders and said, "Hey.  It happens.  We've all done it.  You just have to learn-that's all.  We did...and you will, too."  I will never forget those words.

It didn't take me long to understand what those words meant, and I put it to use in the high jump only 18 hours later as the sun came out and the rain clouds left. I started at a lower height than I ever had before and didn't worry about how long my hip would hold out. I cleared a bar. I had a medal. Then, I just kept playing! Two weeks before, my hip had given out after only four jumps, but I was lucky to be able to take seven as I climbed to break the meet record. I thought it was so cool that the three of us left in the high jump had all won our own age divisions, but we just kept jumping to see how high we could go-just for the sheer joy of it! They helped keep the rotation and rhythm going and the camaraderie was part of my success!

People have wondered what I would do after surgery, especially those first 6 months when I can't do any jogging. I tell them that I will be busy. I have never been bored in my life. The procedure went well and I'm already getting off the crutches. I am living by my new motto:

“It's impossible!” said the Doubt.

“It's dangerous!”  said the Fear.

“It's unnecessary!”said the Reason.

“Try it anyway...” whispered the Heart!