University of Vermont

Barbara Jordan '88

Senior Olympian

Barbara Jordan

In the early 1990s, Barbara Jordan (G '88) eagerly awaited her 55th birthday, a milestone that would make her eligible for the Senior Olympics. Competing in the high jump at her first Senior Games, held at Louisiana State University in 1993, Jordan leapt, landed in the foam pit, and looked up to see the bar still in place. "It was like something in a movie, slow motion," she says. That jump and the gold medal it earned are sharp in Jordan's memory. "I was hooked," she says.

Jordan has gone on to collect many medals: six gold, 11 silver and six bronze at the Senior Olympics over the past 14 years. She's set world age group records for women in the 300-meter hurdles and pentathlon, won numerous national championships, and competed from Spain to Australia to Hawaii.

Though she earned her undergraduate degree in physical education at Springfield College and has always been active, Jordan got her first glimpse of the senior track and field circuit when she worked with a UVM study led by Dr. Richard Tonino that examined aging, insulin and exercise. She met the senior athletes in the study when she filled in as a trainer. "They were having such a great time that I decided when I get old enough, that's what I'm going to do," Jordan says.

Jordan's message: With consistent work, everybody can improve upon their own individual standards

Jordan might spend two hours on the track and another hour in the weight room, but she puts just as much time into helping fellow seniors stay active — teaching classes at a local retirement community, a senior center and a UVM class in fitness and aging.

Sharing the mindset of a senior Olympian, Jordan says, "The next age group is a whole new life. Just wait until I'm 75."