Athletes are some of the most focused, passionate, and driven people on the planet and if there is something in their sights, don’t count on anything stopping him or her from going for it. Arnold Boldt is from Osler, Sask. and his unprecedented career path makes him the epitome of the description above.
Losing his leg in a farm accident at the age of three was not going to deter Boldt from fulfilling his dreams. In elementary school, Boldt garnered an interest in track and field and was introduced to athletics for amputees by his prosthetist. His journey towards stardom began as a 21-year-old in the 1976 Toronto Paralympiad where he competed in a variety of events. He won gold with the Canadian volleyball team and a bronze medal in the pool in the 100 metre breaststroke event. However, his true calling was the high jump and long jump competitions, where he won gold and set world records in both events.
The Paralympics in Toronto were the beginning of what would end up being a long and prosperous career that featured six Paralympic Games. In 1980, Boldt set a World Paralympic high jump record that still stands today when he cleared the bar at 1.96 metres. He defended his gold medal that year and added another long jump gold medal at the Games in Arnhem, Netherlands. He would do the same four years later in 1984 in Stoke Mandeville/New York, as he built his own track and field dynasty.
Four years later in Séoul, his dominance in high jump continued with his fourth consecutive gold medal, but he lost his edge in long jump and had to settle for silver. In 1992, Boldt’s fifth Paralympic Games in Barcelona, he won what would be his last Paralympic gold. He had held possession of the Paralympic high jump crown for a remarkable 16 years and was showered with honourable awards such as the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Pope’s silver medal.
What he was able to accomplish in nearly two decades was incredible in itself, but for a world-renowned athlete like Boldt, it was not enough.
Fast forward another 20 years, and Boldt was preparing for the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games in London, this time as a para-cyclist. The legendary one-legged high jumper took Canada’s cycling circuit by storm when he won Canadian titles in 2009, 2010, and 2011. While the 55-year-old’s sixth Paralympics did not go as well as he was used to, Boldt raced in four events and finished 12th, 12th, 25th, and 36th in the world against athletes who were born decades after him.
Returning to the height of athletic competition 20 years after an illustrious career says a lot about the legacy the Canadian left behind.