Ahead of competing in the W45 pole vault at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, Stacey Gonzalez Betancourt talks to MAUK about her experiences up to this point.

Lately I’ve been saying if I die tomorrow I’ll die a happy woman for I have fulfilled my dreams — here’s why.

When I was in my early twenties I was fortunate enough to unexpectedly stumble upon pole vaulting. I was an ex-gymnast, so nothing I did after that ever came close to that feeling, that rush of expressing your body and having the ability to do what felt like flying!

I trained hard and got to eighth in the UK. At one point was training with the best, Brian Hooper. Unfortunately due to previous back injuries and my lack of ability to say no to pole vault training sessions whilst my back was playing up, my vaulting career crumbled around me and an operation was needed on my back — I had to give up the love of my life!

Fast forward 25 years, a brief competitive spout of competitive salsa dancing, meeting my husband, and having a child, I finally decided that now was the time!

I decided to put my body through this amazing sport again, and not only did I learn to run again, I picked up a pole, I trained, I then competed and became 1st in the UK for my age group all within two years of restarting pole vault.

Now I find myself at my first ever competition abroad, in my first ever GB kit, surrounded by amazing inspiring people who all have amazing stories to tell. I feel so blessed and grateful that my mind and body didn’t totally give up on me, and have brought a new sense of happiness to my life.

I have no idea how long I will ride this wave and will never take anything for granted but I’m so glad that I got to continue the journey from unfinished business to my dreams coming true.

Stacey’s pole vault at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships takes place tomorrowYou can follow coverage of all the action from Torun on YouTube or the event website, as well as here on MAUK.