My Dear Micheline:
I was sorry to hear of your loss, as are countless people around the
world in many arenas. It's tough to be as successful as Dan was in any
one category, but I find it astounding that he excelled in everything
he touched. I'm sorry I can't be there due to my work schedule, but
of course we never get much notice of the timing of these events. I
would enjoy offering my view of Dan as an athlete and person if you
would permit me.
To me, Dan Borrey was a hero, a great business
and family man, but to get to know him as a pole vaulter, I would like
to share the story of the beginning of our friendship. He approached
me after a competition where he had just gotten his season high of 12'
6" (3.83m). I could see by the look in his eye that he was hungry
for more, yet it was the last meet of the year. He wanted to talk to
me about his "goals" for the next year. He told me that he
planned on winning the masters world championship in Buffalo (he would
be 49), barely a year a way, with a vault of 4.60m (15' 1") and
then get the age 50 world record 12 days later in a meet. I asked what
his best was in his prime and he answered 4.20m (13' 9 1/4"). In
my mind I'm saying this guy is crazy. He wants to vault over a foot
higher than he did in his youth at age 49. Ludicrous - unless you're
I told him I would have to think about it and that he may need to reassess
his goals because the odds are logically and overwhelmingly against
him. Not to be deterred, he came out and met me at the track and we
had a heart to heart talk. Dan was a strong and powerful man in every
capacity, but if he respected or liked you he would listen, and stare
at you intently, and then go do it. Seeing that, I told him that I would
take the project, but that he must do everything exactly how I explained.
He was free to question anything but may change nothing in the plan
or execution. He agreed and our seemingly impossible mission was underway.
Buffalo was odd because I was also competing at worlds in the division
just under his age group; at the same time but on runways on opposite
sides of the field. It was really pretty funny because he would run
over to my runway to ask something, and when I finished a vault, I would
go to his pit until I was up again. Fortunately, Dan is much better
than me so I was out of the meet early enough that I could stay with
him the last and most crucial hour of his mission. That day in July
of 1995 he became world champion with a mark of 4.60m - 15' 1",
EXACTLY as he said he would. Two weeks later he turned 50 and immediately
broke the world record at 4.50m (14' 9") - AGAIN, as he said he
In closing, a few years back Dan was diagnosed with cancerous lymphoma.
I noticed he was not himself and seemed deeply troubled and preoccupied.
I mentioned this as we both walked to our cars after practice. He called
me that night, and with his voice breaking, told me the news and asked
me to tell no one. A few days later I learned that the only reason he
told me was because he wanted to the get the world record when he turned
55. Here's a guy dying of cancer and he wants one last world record.
Indoor nationals in Boston came and again our plan was perfect and he
was crowned the best ever in the world and a new record to prove it.
The only reason he started telling people later was because his hair
had fallen out from chemotherapy, yet he was STILL out vaulting. Who
has such a passion for ANYTHING so great, that knowing the records are
gone, and the skills and life are quickly leaving his body that he continues
to live for what he loves.
Dan was a true hero and inspiration like I have never, nor will ever
see and I loved him deeply as a friend and wonderful person. Though
he will be incredibly missed, you just have to know that he's in Heaven
right now teaching someone how to pole vault. That's just Dan!! I feel
blessed to have had him in my life and heart. - Bubba
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - When Dan got the M55 Indoor World Record at 4.06m (13' 4") he made me promise that I would jump higher when I was his age, some 10 years later. On July 14, 2008 at 55, I cleared 4.10m (13' 5 1/4"). Thanks for the goal and motivation Dan!!
NOTE - Micheline Borrey reminds me via
email today (10/21/05) that a Dan Borrey Memorial Pole Vault Competition
is held each year in Dan's hometown of Brussels, Belgium (Link/Info
Below). Video below from Steve Gorman, Gettysburg, PA.