Olympic competition in her blood Mayo principal carries on a family tradition ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY EDUCATION

November 02, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Victoria Waidner remembers when her grandfather, an athlete in the first modern Olympiad in 1896 in Athens, would take her into his backyard and show her how to throw the odd-shaped orb called a discus.

Little did Mrs. Waidner realize that she had begun training for an Olympics that would take place almost 100 years after the games in which her grandfather competed.

Last month, the 55-year-old Mayo Elementary School principal qualified for the national Senior Olympics in Baton Rouge, La., by winning three medals in Maryland's Senior Olympics.

"I have always been interested in track and field," Mrs. Waidner said. "But when I was growing up, little girls didn't run track and field. It just wasn't done."

Times have changed. She won a gold medal in the javelin and bronze medals in the 1,500-meter race walk and the running long jump on the way to Baton Rouge next June.

"I'm very excited," she said. "This was much more than I expected."

Mrs. Waidner's expectations should have been bolstered by her family's Olympic traditions.

Her grandfather was Ellery H. Clark, a gold medalist in the long jump and high jump in the 1896 Olympics and an American all-around athlete, a forerunner to the decathlon. And her father, Ellery H. Clark Jr., is the national race walking champion in the 80-84 age group.

But Mrs. Waidner said her expectations were tempered by the knowledge that she had never participated in any track and field events.

"I started thinking about participating last spring," she said. "And I started going for walks around the neighborhood. But it wasn't until [September] that I really started training."

Mrs. Waidner said she borrowed a javelin from the Naval Academy to practice. The husband of a Mayo teacher taught her the race walking form. Within a month, she was standing among more than 1,600 senior athletes.

"I'll tell you the truth: I took my medical card with me in case I broke my ankle or had a heart attack," she said.

Mrs. Waidner's success has encouraged her students and staff.

First-grade teacher Jean Holt has decided she'll try her hand at the Senior Olympics when she turns 55 in 12 years.

"When Mrs. Waidner came back with all her medals the kids were excited, and so was I," she recalled. "It's just good to know that you have someone like Mrs. Waidner."

Mrs. Waidner said her inspiration comes from her 83-year-old father, who came down from Massachusetts to watch her compete. He is also planning to accompany her to Baton Rouge, she said.

But the father and daughter have even bigger plans: the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

"My father's secret desire is to be the torch runner in Atlanta," she said. "He'll be 87 then, and it'll be the 100th anniversary of the Olympics of my grandfather. He's probably the only living child of an Olympian from that game. I really would like to see him fulfill his dream."

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