Friday, August 17, 2001
Carlisle Comments: Off to World Veterans' Athletic Championships
We're home from Australia and we had a fantastic experience, one we will always remember with deep feelings of pride and gratefulness for our health at the tender ages of 65 plus. Only sprinters talk about their age with joy because a birthday can send you into a whole new age group (5-year increments) that gives you the advantage of being "new woman" on the "block". It was a long way to travel to Australia, but it was all worth it when you realize you were with 6000 athletes from 79 countries all between the ages of 40 and 101. The largest group of competitors was within the ages of 50-65 ... men and women ... 60-40%. The name of the championship is 14th World Veteran's Athletic Championships (WAVA) held every two years in countries all around the world. They last for two weeks and include track and field events. Chuck and I traveled with my coach-friend. Chuck competed in the field events and I raced different distances on the track. It is quite an intense competition but the overwhelming atmosphere is that of friendship and camaraderie amongst people and nations.
It is more than a track meet, it is a meeting of similar people who love athletics and want to share a good time. Winning is truly the frosting on the cake, not the end-all of the championships. When you make the commitment to train for the championships it requires your total focus, but once your homework is done, "Let the Games Begin."
Chuck trained diligently with a coach from MIT who brought him to a confidence level that allowed him to participate with pride. He threw the discus, the javelin and put the shot in the age category of 65-69. In each of his events there were 45-60 men competing, so it was done in heats. Chuck did very well and in the next championships he will add the weight pentathlon to his agenda. Great effort.
I was fortunate to have a personal friend of mine coach me the whole way through, one year, plus. She was awesome and brought me to a level that allowed me to sprint to glory. I ran the 800m and won a gold medal in this event against a tough Canadian, and an Italian woman who placed 3rd. Next I ran the 400m and won a gold medal and set a new world record for my age group. It was very exciting to race so hard and feel so good. The relays are held on the very last day of the championships and you must be asked to race by the American Team Manager. It is an honor to run for your country on the team comprised of the best in that event. In the 4x400m relay I ran with the 60-year age group and we won the gold and set a new world record in the event. In the 4X100m I ran with the 65-year age group and we earned the bronze medal. Nine countries line up on the starting line in each relay and you feel a wonderful sense of pride. You just race your heart out because there is nothing to lose and all to gain for your team. Wow -- unbelievable.
All in all, it was a fabulous, uplifting and memorable experience and we were very proud to be at the championships with all the other champs from around the world who had lived and trained as we had done. I have made a lot of friends throughout my years of racing, many of whom I cannot understand, but in our hearts we speak the same language of love and admiration and I realize these hugs and good-wishes are the true essence of the championships. Thanks for all your wishes of good-luck. We carried them with us every minute and now we say thanks for listening.
© +YEAR+ The Carlisle Mosquito