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Paralympics: 'A dive, sort of straddle, sort of roll'

Wheelchair racers speeding to victory, blind swimmers competing for gold, and disabled skiers pushing their bodies to the limit. These are today's Paralympians. They train hard. They play to win. And in recent years, Canadians have been winning big at the Paralympic Games. The Paralympics began as a postwar sporting event designed to get injured ex-soldiers moving again. But by the 1980s the Games had evolved into an elite international competition.

The Front Page Challenge panellists are clearly amazed by Arnie Boldt, the one-legged Canadian high jumper who won gold at Toronto's 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled. "What do you do, hop on one leg to the bar?" asks an incredulous Pierre Berton in this 1977 clip. "Yes," responds Boldt, matter-of-factly. And Betty Kennedy is curious about Boldt's technique for going over the bar. He has his own unique style, he explains: "It's a dive, sort of straddle, sort of roll."
• Arnold Boldt lost his leg at the age of three after getting it caught in a grain auger -- a farm implement used to move grain from one location to another.
• He got involved in sports like high jump and long jump while in elementary school. He learned how to do everything on one leg. He didn't start wearing an artificial leg until his late teens, and even then he said he found it uncomfortable and preferred to go without.

• Boldt hadn't seriously trained before going to the 1976 Olympiad. He was very fit and had practiced a bit of high jump before going to Toronto, but he mainly relied on his natural athletic ability.

• Even after Boldt had jumped high enough to win the gold medal at the 1976 Games, he decided to try for a world record. In his third attempt at the record he achieved it, jumping 1.86 metres. The second-place jumper from Austria had jumped 1.65 metres
. • Boldt also won gold medals in the amputee long jump in 1976 and 1980.

• Boldt later attended the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba. He competed for these schools' track teams in high jump at the CIAU (Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union) level. At university competitions, he competed with able-bodied jumpers.

• At the 1980 Paralympics, Boldt established a new Paralympic record for amputee high jump, at 1.96 metres. This Paralympic record still stands today (2004).
• In several non-Paralympic competitions after 1980, Boldt was able to jump higher than two metres. In 1981, he jumped his career best of 2.08 metres in Winnipeg.

• A 1979 Canadian film called Crossbar was "very loosely" based on Boldt's career as an elite one-legged high jumper. Canadian actor Brent Carver played the lead character.
Medium: Television
Program: Front Page Challenge
Broadcast Date: March 7, 1977
Guest(s): Raynell Andreychuk, Arnie Boldt
Host: Fred Davis
Panellist: Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Gordon Sinclair
Duration: 8:23
Writer: Chuck Weir

Last updated: March 13, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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