Home News and Features Never Too Late to Go for Gold: Margaret Gibson McCoy Jumps to...

Never Too Late to Go for Gold: Margaret Gibson McCoy Jumps to Two Gold Medals at National Senior Games

Margaret Gibson McCoy wears the two gold medals she won recently at the National Senior Games. Photo by Tom Brown.
Margaret Gibson McCoy believes it’s never too late to get back on track, literally and figuratively.

A former track-and-field athlete at Montpelier High School and the University of Vermont, Gibson McCoy gave up the sport after an injury during her freshman year at UVM and stayed away for 30 years. She rediscovered her love for the sport at age 53 in an effort to improve her mental and physical fitness.

Her rededication was rewarded in May when Gibson McCoy took home two gold medals in the age 60–64 division at the 2022 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She said returning to the sport not only improved her health, it provided a foundation of strength in her personal life as well.

“It’s never too late to find something you really enjoy, whether it’s track or pickleball or shuffleboard, anything that inspires you,” she said. “It’s never too late to start.”

Gibson McCoy, who works for the Vermont Council on Rural Development, said she thought she might medal in her top event, the triple jump, but her gold in the long jump, which came first, was a bit unexpected.

“I didn’t sleep well the night before the long jump but maybe the nerves converted to adrenaline because my jump (12 feet, 8 inches) was my best of the year and well beyond what I had been doing in practice,” she said.

The triple jump, a combination horizontal jump sometimes compared to a hop, skip, and a jump, came the next day. Her leap of 26 feet, 2 inches, was by far the best in the nine-person field.

Gibson McCoy said she doesn’t jump to win but having competition like that in the Senior Games helps to motivate her during long hours of practice.

“The beauty about track is that you are also competing against yourself,” she said. “So it’s like you go for your own personal best and if you get your personal best you’re happy and it’s not necessarily about winning, although winning is the icing on the cake. Winning at nationals was really thrilling.”

Gibson McCoy was inspired to return to jumping after seeing a story on WCAX about Vermont’s most decorated senior athlete, Flo Meiler of Shelburne. Meiler, who is now 87, holds at least two dozen world records in her age group. The pair crossed paths during training at UVM’s Gucciardi Center and were roommates at the Fort Lauderdale games.

“We celebrated quite a bit,” Gibson McCoy said.

Gibson McCoy, who comes from a dynastic line of Vermont public servants, was part of a state champion girls track team under Rome Aja at MHS. Her father was Ernest Gibson III, a state Supreme Court justice, her grandfather, Ernest Jr., was a Vermont governor, and her great-grandfather was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Vermont.

Returning to the sport also led her to serve as a jumping coach for Mark Chaplin at U-32, where her sons attended high school. 

“Track has really given me a lot,” she said. “It’s become a big part of who I am. When things in life are tough, doing track was the positive outlet that literally kept me going. When you stand at the end of the runway and talk yourself into being fast, strong, and powerful, there’s just something about that that you carry with you in life.”

Gibson McCoy’s gold-medal–winning days might not be over. She has qualified in the long jump and expects to qualify in triple jump before next year’s nationals in Pittsburgh.