When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci
Humans can’t fly, so David Lindenberg engages in the next best thing: pole vaulting.
The fourth-year DMU medical student pole-vaulted in high school but was denied a spot on the University of California-Davis track team until his senior year. He could practice with the team during the four-month tryout period but had to buy his own poles. He finally made the team by clearing 15 feet.
“That was amazing. It was the highlight of my pole vaulting career,” Lindenberg says. “It was great to become part of the team, to have that support.”
Another highlight occurred on April 23: After winning a national championship, the 31-year-old was invited to compete in the first-ever masters’ pole vault competition at the Drake Relays, which marked its 100th anniversary this year. Lindenberg, one of four students in DMU’s prestigious osteopathic manual medicine fellowship program, was cheered on by his OMM colleagues.
“They really helped me clear the bar. They were shouting at me, ‘You can do it!’” he says.
Lindenberg won the event with a vault of 15 feet, 7.75 inches, which topped the second-place winner by more than a foot. While the victory was sweet, he also was inspired by the other vaulters – including one in his 60s – and their camaraderie.
“We all understand the work that goes into vaulting and the risks we’re taking,” he says. “Plus when one of us vaults higher, that pushes the rest of us to do better.”
Lindenberg, an assistant pole-vault coach for Grand View University in Des Moines, trains to maintain strength, speed and coordination. The sport complements his career goal of working in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
“Fitness is important in pole vaulting, and I like that,” he says. “It’s a motivational force to stay healthy.”