David Earnest Tork was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on 25 August 1934... set the Southern Conference pole vault record in both the indoor and outdoor competitions... awarded three consecutive trophies for "Outstanding Fieldsman" throughout the Southern Conference... two-time All-Marine Champion in 1961 and 1962... placed first, 20 times throughout the United States and Europe during the 1962 outdoor track and field season... 1962 - set the World Outdoor Pole Vault Record with a 16 feet 2 inch vault which broke a twenty-year record... 1963 - broke the indoor pole vault record in Toronto, Canada with a vault of 16 feet 2.25 inches... gold medal at the Pan American Games in San Paulo, Brazil... 1980-inducted to West Virginia Sports Hall of Fameâ€¦2008-inducted to USA Track and Field National Pole Vault Hall of Fame.
David Earnest Tork was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on 25 August 1934. As a student at Fairmont High School and later at the Greenbrier Military School, Tork was a gifted athlete lettering in basketball, football, and track. Tork also competed in boxing, wrestling and swimming earning him the Greer Memorial Gold Medal for the Greenbrier's most outstanding athlete.
From 1954 to 1958, Tork attended West Virginia University earning three letters in both wrestling and gymnastics. However, the sport of pole vault is where Tork excelled. Tork set the Southern Conference pole vault record in each of his three years of competition in both the indoor and outdoor competitions. In each year, Tork won the Southern Conference pole vault championship and the Southern Conference sports writers presented him with a trophy as the most "Outstanding Fieldsman" throughout the Southern Conference.
In 1958, Tork joined the Marine Corps in hopes to fly a fighter jet, but a physical revealed an eye condition that precluded him flying. Tork served at Marine Corps Schools Quantico until completion of Officer Candidate School and The Basic School. In 1960, Tork transferred to MCB Camp Pendleton where he served as the battalion Special Service Officer. While in the Marine Corps, Tork was a two-time All-Marine Champion in 1961 and 1962, and placed first 20 times throughout the United States and Europe during the 1962 outdoor track and field season. His greatest accomplishment came on 28 April 1962, when he set the World Outdoor Pole Vault Record at a meet in Walnut Creek, CA. Tork's vault of 16 feet 2 inches broke a twenty-year old record, which was the oldest track and field record at the time. Tork proudly broke the record with his Camp Pendleton track and field uniform. For his accomplishments, Tork received the Brietbard Athletic Foundation Star of the Month in March and in April, the Helms Athletic Foundation Athlete of the Month (April), and the West Virginia Athlete of the Year. In addition, President John F. Kennedy sent Tork a congratulatory letter acknowledging his accomplishments.
In September 1962, Tork left active duty service and entered the Marine Corps Reserve. Tork reached the rank of captain in 1963 and entered the inactive reserve component from 1964 to 1969.
In January 1963, Tork added another world record under his belt, when he broke the indoor pole vault record in Toronto, Canada with a vault of 16 feet 2.25 inches. Later that year, Tork won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in San Paulo, Brazil. In 1964, Tork was one of two vaulters to defeat the Russians at a competition in Los Angeles.
During the 1964 Olympic Trials at the World's Fair in New York City, Tork finished second due to problems with his pole. This unfortunate event prevented Tork from competing at the 1964 Olympics in Japan. Shortly after the Olympic Trials, Tork retired from the sport and spent the next forty years in the field of fundraising, public relations, marketing, and economic development.
The West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame inducted Tork in May 1980 and the USA Track and Field National Pole Vault Hall of Fame inducted him in January 2008. Currently, David Tork resides in Wheeling, West Virginia and is the president and founder of his economic firm, IDEAS.