A veteran Columbus firefighter who competed in the World Police and Fire games for the fourth time won another gold medal and set a record in the process.
Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Ziegler traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the track and field competition at the games and won a gold medal with a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles. His winning time of 17.36 seconds set a World Police and Fire Games record for the 50-54 age division.
Ziegler said he broke the record by about .3 seconds.
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“I didn’t know I broke (the record) until the awards ceremony, and when they announced it I was in shock. I didn’t look at the time. I wanted to win but I never thought about it,” said Ziegler, who will turn 51 on Aug. 30.
He almost won another gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles, but had to settle for second place and a silver medal. His time of 1 minute, 8.35 seconds was .03 seconds slower than the winner.
“I was trying for the 400 record but Mother Nature and old age wouldn’t let me,” Ziegler said.
At the 2015 Games in Fairfax, Virginia, Ziegler won the 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles in his age division. Ziegler earned a bronze medal with a third-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles in the 2011 Games in New York.
He first competed in the World Police and Fire games in 2001 in Indianapolis and won a bronze medal in the 400-meter hurdles.
Ziegler, a 20-year department veteran, said that this year he had the opportunity to reconnected with acquaintances he had met at previous games.
“We’re from all over the world, but when we see each other at the games we’re just firefighters and police officers,” Ziegler said. “It’s like a family reunion with some minor language barriers.”
Ziegler also had the opportunity to see other Hoosier public safety athletes, including the “Team Indiana” basketball team and an individual track and field participant.
The biennial games, which started Aug. 7 and ended Wednesday, attract an average of about 10,000 participants from more than 60 countries.
The 2019 games will be conducted in China. Ziegler said that at this time he is unsure if he will be able to attend.