Brian Sternberg, who set the world record multiple times in the men’s pole vault during the 1963 season before suffering an injury that left his paralyzed the majority of his life, died May 23 just one month short of his 70th birthday. Sternberg had been hospitalized for the past 15 months and died from heart and lung failure, the Seattle Times reported.
Sternberg set his final world record in the pole vault on June 7, 1963, with a height of 5.08m/16-8 while he was a sophomore at the University of Washington. Five weeks after setting the record, while doing a workout at Washington’s Edmundson Pavilion, he sustained a neck injury on a trampoline that left him a quadriplegic.
Sternberg graduated from Seattle’s Shoreline High School in 1961 and won the 1963 NCAA pole vault title competing for the Huskies.
In 1996, in a successful attempt to improve his quality of life, Sternberg underwent surgery on his spinal cord, which allowed him to speak more clearly and easily and remain upright for longer periods of time.
There will be a memorial service for Sternberg on June 22 at 2 p.m. at the First Free Methodist Church in Seattle.