Bobby Harris, East Hampton High School’s most outstanding athlete in 1964, who, after a long layoff, began vying successfully in senior track competitions (primarily in the high jump) throughout the country in 1999, at the age of 54, wants to attend the national senior games in Cleveland at the end of the month, where he would compete in the 65-to-69 group, but needs some sponsorship in order to do it.
He said during a telephone conversation Monday that he had qualified for the 2009 national Senior Olympics in California and for the Senior Olympics in Houston in 2011, but could not afford to go.
Since 2000, he has appeared in five Senior Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the high jump in Pittsburgh in 2005, and in four Connecticut Senior Games, winning the high jump in 2010 and placing second in ’08 and last year, at a height of 4-6.
“As long as I can walk I’m going to jump,” the enthusiastic about-to-be-retired postal worker said in answer to an e-mailed question. “Age group competition for senior athletes goes up to 95-plus. I haven’t jumped 6 feet yet, but I’m going to keep pushing. In three months I’ll be retired, after a 42-year career, and then I’ll start training for the 50 meters.”
At East Hampton High, Harris starred in football, basketball, and track (100, 220, 880 relay, high jump, and long jump).
In interviews on these pages, the Jersey City resident has said that regular attendance at age-group sporting events had convinced him of “the marvels of the human body. It’s good for you to keep moving despite the fact that our bodies do break down. Confidence is the key. It depends on how your mind perceives yourself. I’ve seen 65-year-olds guys run like they were 40. I saw an 88-year-old run the 800. He was last in his age group, but he ran it. . . . As they say, ‘You don’t stop playing because you get old! You get old because you stop playing!’ ”
Donations to help defray his estimated $860 trip to Cleveland — the high jump will be contested on July 25 — can be sent to him, care of James Farley Station, New York City 10116. He can be e-mailed at Pharris504574@ gmail.com.