BAILEYVILLE (KSNT) – “It’s probably the most incredible experience anyone could ever have,” said 1996 Olympic high jumper Ed Broxterman.
Very few can call themselves Olympians, but Baileyville-native Ed Broxterman is one of the elite. A member of the USA’s high jump team during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Broxterman put his town on the map, in more ways than one.
“Being from a small community, everybody rallied around you,” said Broxterman. “They had a street dance, a barbecue, everybody had signs in their yard. Even the local communities next to ours, Seneca and Axtell, had signs in the yard. It became a big community event. The Olympic torch happened to come through my home town, so I got to carry the Olympic torch and light the cauldron.”
Recently Broxterman stopped by Silver Lake Elementary School to talk about his Olympic experience. He started high jumping in high school, and was a state champion his first year. By senior year, he was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Entering Olympic qualifying, Broxterman had never cleared the height of 7’6.5″.
“Boom, I’m up in the air and over the bar,” said Broxterman about clearing his new personal record. “I knew if I made that jump on my first attempt I’m probably going to be on the (USA Olympic) team. So that’s why you see me going crazy. It was that one moment in my life where I made my dream happen.”
Now two decades later, the former Kansas State track & field star can look back on the ’96 Games from start to finish.
“The coolest part about the Opening Ceremonies was walking up the ramp,” said Broxterman. “I saw all the lights and cameras flashing. It’s the one moment where 85,000 people are chanting the same thing. It was so loud, it was just, ‘USA, USA’.”
Nearly everything from the Opening Ceremonies was perfect on that 1996 evening, except for one moment.
“American’s were the very last ones to go because we were the host country, so we were going to wait in the back of the line because we wanted to go in with the (NBA) Dream Team,” said Broxterman. “We thought we’d be on television a lot, and actually it was miserable because the camera was on all the Olympians as they came through, but then when the Dream Team came, the camera went, ‘oh the Dream Team is now here’, and just kind of skipped over us.”
Broxterman cleared 7’1″ in Atlanta, but did not qualify for the Olympic finals. This year, eight Kansan’s will be heading to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, including Erik Kynard. He broke Broxterman’s high jump record at Kansas State back in 2013, and won the Silver medal at the 2012 Games in London.