How Gia Lewis-Smallwood got American discus record — at 35

Never stop learning. That applies double to older athletes. Just because your sainted high school coach told you one thing, it don’t mean you still gotta obey. That’s my takeaway from a great IAAF profile of Gia Lewis-Smallwood, whose American elite record in the discus this year is probably worth submitting as a W35 American record. “Every top discus thrower in history had used the sweep [a throwing technique where the right foot sweeps past the left side of the body and leads the throw] and I had reached the point where I needed to focus on mastering it,” she says. “It wasn’t natural to me. As soon as I got back from London I cleared out the furniture in my living room and practiced it over and over and over for hours and hours and hours.” So hie thee to a living room and get cracking! (And check out this booming throw.)

October 23, 2014  No Comments

National Masters News website gets face-lift, should eye new roles

New look to NMN website.

Fresh NMN website features new nameplate.

National Masters News has been a part of our lives since 1977. In print. Its online portal quietly surfaced around 1999. Over the years, the website has gotten pretty unpretty. Too old-school and messy. Recently, the site got a refresh. Now it matches the slick, glossy magazine it promotes. Nice job. But as a USATF-subsidized media outlet, NMN should do more than list how to subscribe, renew and buy All-American Athlete gear. It should share news. Yeah, I know we already have a USATF Masters official website, but it’s basically useless. It never fulfilled my hopes. But with so much happening in our sport, NMN can serve as a resource beyond my daily rant. At the least, it should post selected columns, enticing more print readers. And how about a blog for publishers Amanda and Tish? I’d love to hear their takes!

NMN website in its first year (left) and in recent, overly messy, incarnation.

NMN website in its first year (left) and in recent, overly cluttered, incarnation.

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October 22, 2014  One Comment

Tyke Peacock, former American record holder, reveals ’84 secret

Tyke in 2011 looked heavy. Hope he’s lighter now.

In 1984, former KU jumper Tyke Peacock cleared 7-4 1/2 in his sweats to make the finals of the Los Angeles Olympic Trials. But the day of the final, he bombed out. Injury was claimed. The truth — told 30 years later — was Tyke feared being drug-tested and banned. In an amazing story, in an Illinois paper, Tyke’s fight with cocaine addiction is told. “I faked the injury,” Tyke says now. “I knew I would not pass a drug test. I held that dirty secret for so many years. That’s what kept me high, to hold that to myself. Until I was able to speak the words to someone else, I didn’t feel true freedom.” He also says: “There is absolutely no question in my mind I could have been an Olympic champion.” He’s now 53, “clean and sober for four years,” and he tells of the five operations on his right knee and another on his left that sapped him of his athletic prowess. “I could probably jump over a slice of bread,” he says. He went on disability. But I’ve seen this rodeo before, and I’d encourage Tyke to try masters track. It’s a return home, he would learn. Godspeed, Tyke. We’d love to see you.

October 21, 2014  2 Comments

Rod Milburn will not be forgotten — thanks to hurdling’s Boswell

If Rod Milburn were alive, he might be training for 2015 Lyon worlds — ready to smoke the field in the M65 short hurdles. But in a tragedy to world sport and masters track, Rod died at 47 in a workplace accident. To those of my generation, Hot Rod was Hurdling’s God. He held the world record and won the Munich Olympic title after a meteoric rise in Louisiana. How do we know Rod might have entered masters meets? Coach and hurdling webmaster Steve McGill says so in the 12th and final chapter of his haunting Milburn biography. “[Rod] continued to work out and train,” Steve writes. “Most people who knew him agreed that if he still wanted to race he would probably still be competitive against world-class athletes, and could most likely dominate at the masters level.”

Rod Milburn was my hero. I had a T&FN poster of him in my KU dorm room.

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October 20, 2014  5 Comments

Root against Eugene? TrackTown bid for 2019 IAAF worlds pivotal

If Eugene loses bid for 2019 kiddie worlds, it might be open for 2018 WMA outdoor worlds.

Contrary to an August report in Athletics Weekly, WMA doesn’t have four bids in hand for the 2018 World Masters Athletics Outdoor Championships. That’s the word from my WMA source. In other words, we don’t know if Barcelona, Spain; Cardiff, Wales; Gothenburg, Sweden; and Toronto, Canada are in the running. My source says: “WMA … had before the September cutoff up to six bids of interest (not bids). Of these, several pulled out in July and by the final dates. … it was clear that we needed to consider other possible bids, so for this reason we have extended this to the 20th December, and thus the new deadline.” But I’ve also learned that my fantasy of Eugene hosting 2018 is a possibility. But only if it fails to win 2019 IAAF worlds, I’m told. Hayward Field at the University of Oregon would probably be shut down for a while to bring it up to IAAF standards (and seating) for 2019 worlds. Eugene is a finalist against Doha and Barcelona. “The host city for the IAAF World Championships 2019 will be decided in Monaco by IAAF Council on Tuesday 18 November 2014, following the final presentations made by the three candidates,” IAAF says.

October 19, 2014  2 Comments

Brazilian medalist banned for life as age-cheater, WMA confirms

Here's how Brazil shared news of the ban.

Here’s how Brazil shared the news of ban.

Francisco do Carmo Oliveira of Brazil, who won five medals in Porto Alegre worlds after lying about his age, has been banned for life, my source inside World Masters Athletics confirms. “This is a matter that is still ongoing, so until WMA [has] a final adjudication I will not give any official comment,” my council source says. “This was not a situation that WMA [was] aware of or made aware of by the affiliate. The athlete’s regional association seems to have found the problem and this was dealt with by them and ABRAM through the Regional Brazilian Veterans Association in Rio Janeiro and the court of Justice. From which they have then made the facts known to WMA. … I can substantiate the athlete has basically been banned for life from masters competition in Brazil and international competitions.” I’m also told that Francisco’s results have been removed from the 2013 booklet, thanks to its late printing. But he didn’t hold up the printing. “Arrangements are already [in] hand for the other athletes to receive the upgraded medals and hopefully the full WMA response will be on site in the coming week,” I’m told. That’s good. Meanwwhile, I’m awaiting replies from South American and Brazilian authorities. And I’ve also gotten the original Brazilian verdict in his case. Also note that the news broke in late May.

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October 18, 2014  One Comment

Brazen Brazilian, 76, won three M85 golds at Porto Alegre worlds

For at least five seasons leading up to Porto Alegre worlds, Francisco do Carmo Oliveira of Brazil competed with a claimed date of birth of June 8, 1927. That meant he was M85 at his home country’s 2013 world meet. But in a comment posted Friday, Italian statmeister Luigi Fasolato reported that Francisco was a fraud — found to have a DOB of June 8, 1937. Oops. Brazil banned him from competition and stripped Francisco of his national records, Luigi says and his affiliate confirms. So like, HOW THE BLEEPIN’ HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? The host country has some splaining to do. (And could that have been a factor in the holdup of the results booklet?) Has Portugal’s Jose Canelo been sent three gold medals? Jose was runner-up to Frankie in the 800, 1500 and 5000. Lots of questions: How was the fraudster found out? How come WMA hasn’t reported this? Who vetted his world age-group records? How did he get away with this? Stay tuned.

South American masters officials threw the book at the Brazilian.

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October 17, 2014  One Comment

W50 javelin champion branded as a ‘witch’ in India, flees attack

Dorothy from Kansas would have been toast had the WW of the W carried a 600mg javelin.

India’s news media are going crazy over a crime report involving a W50 national champion javelin thrower who was attacked as a “witch.” The gold medalist in question is Debajani Bora. She appears to be OK, but the news (if true, since Indian press accounts can be flaky) is startling. The best report says: “Bora (51), a javelin thrower, who had won a gold medal in the 2011 national masters in Haryana, was targeted by villagers allegedly at the instigation of the Naamgharia (head of a religious prayer hall). Police said the Naamgharia had branded her as a witch and instigated people to torture her. ‘Yesterday (Wednesday), the family of the athlete registered a complaint at Dokmoka police station in the district. Based on the complaint, we have arrested Naamgharia Radha Laskar and a probe is on,’ said Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police M.J. Mahanta. Police said the Naamgharia organised some prayers in the Naamghar (the prayer hall) in her village Monday. ‘As the prayer was on, Laskar caught hold of Debajani and started beating her. He also instigated other villagers to hold her and beat her,’ said police.”

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October 17, 2014  No Comments

Porto Alegre results booklet is out soon — only a year late

WMA Prez Stan Perkins didn’t mask his pique. He’s PO’d that the Porto Alegre results booklet won’t be available till Halloween Eve.That’s scary late, since the meet ended Oct. 27, 2013. In a WMA post, he writes: “Finally we are able to announce that the Results Booklet from the 2013 WMA Stadia Championships held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has been finalised and is in print. A spokesperson for the LOC, Sinara Zorzo, has indicated that the posting of the booklet should commence on 30 October, 2014. The final draft of the booklet was viewed in the past week and it includes all results and a good range of action photographs from the competitions. It has been very disappointing that the issue of the results booklet has taken so long. Apparently, financial difficulties experienced by the championship organisers prevented them from meeting this responsibility. However, additional funding has now been provided to permit this final responsibility of the LOC to be delivered.” The results have been online for months, of course. I added them to last weekend, in fact (along with the past seven USATF nationals). So I’m guilty of felony procrastination. But Porto Alegre had promised the books to entrants.

October 16, 2014  2 Comments

Quirky column salutes Charles Allie a year after IAAF honors

My favorite image of Charles. Too fast to shoot.

In a strangely written column, we learn that M65 sprint superstar Charles Allie was celebrated recently at a party drawing hundreds. “Over 300 people turned out to celebrate this champion. Wait, correction . . . 275 people came for him and 25 people slipped in for the free food and booze. I am just saying,” said Pittsburgh writer Bill Neal, who went on in countdown fashion: “:04—Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion Kevin “Freight Train” Parker presented the award and yours truly MC’ed the event…Please y’all know. :03—If that wasn’t enough, Sugar Ray Leo­nard’s brother and his wife were there.” Anyone have real details on party?

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October 15, 2014  8 Comments