British masters official aghast that Auckland WMG allows Russians

Bridget Cushen, former WMA Council member, is British masters secretary

I’m warming to these World Masters Games. They allow anyone to come and play — the spirit of the founders of WAVA in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, the likes of David Pain and Bob Fine rebelled at restrictions on who could run and jump at worlds. They went to bat for “professional athletes” and South Africans during the Apartheid era. Now comes longtime British masters official Bridget Cushen, challenging the Auckland WMG for — horrors! — allowing Russians into the track meet. Bridget sent this note recently: “If you have been following the World Masters Games … you may not be totally surprised to see several Russian competitors competing and winning medals in the T&F section. [International Masters Games Association], the World Masters Games Board always claim to run the T&F under IAAF rules. They claim their quadrennial World Games are based on the Olympic model. WMA are not allowed to accept Russian entries at the moment and EMA tried to allow them but were warned by WMA.” She added: “If you check on the governors of IMGA, the IAAF vice president, Sergey Bubka, is listed and so is Sir Philip Craven (Paralympics). And Lord [Sebastian] Coe is listed as an ambassador. Not room for a masters [exhibition] race in London [at 2017 IAAF worlds] but a blind eye to the Russians competing in an international Games that they promote! I’m surprised the press have not spotted this.”

Russia’s Vitali Romanovich, a past WMA world champion, used the dive straddle to win the WMG M50 high jump at 1.76 (5-9 1/4). Photo by Rob Jerome


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April 26, 2017  No Comments

Can Indian sprinter Man Kaur document her being 101 years old?

Flame away. But I’m just a tad skeptical about Man Kaur, the “101-year-old” star of the World Masters Games in Auckland. The other day she ran the 100 in 74.56 seconds, and New Zealand media dubbed her the “miracle from Chandigarh.” But Indian athletes have a history of inflating their ages. The most notorious is Dharam Pal Singh, whose claims of being 119 were busted by Jere Longman of The New York Times. Why am I doubtful? Because she doesn’t run in official masters meets, such as WMA. She appears to confine her efforts to masters games, where DOB verification may be lax. (Let’s see if her mark is submitted to WMA.) She’s also entered in the 200 and shot Wednesday., I’m writing the LOC and International Masters Games Association for age proof. Meantime, be aware that Ms. Kaur is far from the fastest W100 on record. WMA doesn’t list a W100 record for 100 meters. Neither does USATF. But we have W100 Ida Keeling running 100 at Penn (in 77.33) and W100 Ella Mae Colbert running 100 in 46.79 at a local track meet. So who is truly the oldest lady sprinter? Stay tuned.

April 25, 2017  13 Comments

Throwers young and old gathering for Big Guys party in Sacramento

Gary England writes to invite all American Big Guys (and Gals) to the annual Traveling Big Guys Party on the Saturday night of the USATF open championships in Sacramento. The party “has been a rite of passage for throwers since 1990,” Gary says. “I have decided to combine it with the West Coast Throwers Reunion to bring the past and present together.” Party site will be on the website at americanbigguys.com and social media, he says. “Throwing Fellowship, drinks and raffle is $15 for meet participants and coaches, $30 for everybody else.” I love the story behind the party’s name. “Starting in 1990 at the National Championships in Cerritos, California, the Traveling Big Guys Party got its name from having to travel from hotel to hotel after (sometimes not so politely) being asked to leave,” the website says. “Our first venue was a single hotel room where we stacked the furniture and beds up in order to make enough space to accommodate our guests. Even by rearranging the room’s furnishings, the forty-plus throwers in attendance crowded the room and spilled into the parking lot, creating what is now considered a right of passage into the elite throwing circle.”

Gary England awards a Mac Wilkins discus as a raffle prize at a recent Traveling Big Guys Party. Gary was a longtime masters thrower himself.

April 24, 2017  One Comment

Barrineau posts top HJ mark on Day 1 of Kiwi World Masters Games

The World Masters Games were fully under way Saturday in Auckland, and track results are rolling out here. Helpfully noting the age-graded percentages, separate files for Day 1 track and Day 1 field show some nice efforts in the high jump and long hurdles. Olympian Jim Barrineau cleared 1.65 (5-5) to win M60, and fellow American Curtis Morgan went 1.38 (4-6 1/4) to lead a 1-2-4 U.S. sweep in M70. Kiwi James Blair had the No. 2 age-graded mark (after Barrineau’s 87.7 percent) with his 84.6 percent in M85, where he jumped 1.10 (3-7 1/4). Fellow Aussie Marge Allison was exactly 2 seconds off her listed W70 world record in the 200 hurdles. Marge ran 38.71 Saturday. American Kathy Shook took the W55 300 hurdles in 57.26. Anything big I’m missing?

Bearded Jim Barrineau soars Down Under at WMG. Photo by Rob Jerome

April 23, 2017  4 Comments

Deadline for 2021, 2022 WMA world meet bidders is Sept. 1, 2017

World Masters Athletics is calling for bidders to host the 2021 indoor and 2022 outdoor world championships. The deadline is fast approaching: Sept. 1, 2017. So if any American sites have any interest, it’s time to boogie. If an indoor meet requires multiple venues, the best are in the Boston and New York areas. Maybe Landover has a nearby arena in Maryland. Winning outdoor worlds is a long shot for the United States, since Toronto is hosting 2020. But why not Oregon’s Hayward Field for 2022 — a year after IAAF Eugene worlds? Even the Eurovets would love that! (Both meets will be awarded at 2018 Malaga worlds.) Bid guidelines are here. (Says expect a budget of as much as $450,000.) For more info, write WMA Secretary María Alfaro at wmasec16@gmail.com.

April 22, 2017  No Comments

Ray Bower dies at 93; pioneer at worlds, M75 sprint champ at Penn

Ray from Diamond Head overlook at age 81.

I smile in recalling Ray Bower’s butt. We shared a dorm room at 2005 Hawaii masters nationals, and his cute little rump stuck out from the bed covers across the room. More important was the fact he could move that butt on the track — and he became a friend as we reunited at nationals. On April 11, I learned Friday, he died in North Carolina at age 93. Cause wasn’t given in this obituary. His funeral was Thursday in Mount Lebanon, southwest of Pittsburgh. He was a sprinter who won at least one M75-and-over 100 at the Penn Relays. He also ran at several world WAVA meets, including the first one in Toronto — back in 1975. (He was fourth in the M50 100 after a 12.0 semi.) At Penn in 1999, he won the 100 in 15.54 at age 75. In Honolulu, we went on a memorable day trip, climbing to the top of Diamond Head overlooking the coast. (See my photo gallery.) I’ll miss Ray for his stories about college football officiating. And for his great companionship. His last race may have been in 2014, when he ran a 200 in 38.25 as an M90. Damn impressive. Thanks for the memories, Ray.

Ray had no problem scampering to top of extinct volcano. I worked to keep up.

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April 21, 2017  4 Comments

Someone at Eurovets is silencing debate, erasing EMA content

This March 24 discussion of Finns at 2016 EMA General Assembly was deleted from Facebook.

A couple days ago, the Facebook group for European Masters Athletics went from open to closed — meaning new members have to be approved by the admins. One reason for the change is the apparent effort to purge critics of EMA President Kurt Kaschke of Germany, including German masters track blogger Axel Hermanns. His recent post at Lampis.net is headlined: “Kaschke has abolished freedom of expression as an ‘Erdogan for the poor,’” a reference to the Turkish president gaining dictator powers. Also noted is the erasure of a mini-scandal — that Finnish delegates didn’t attend the March 2016 General Assembly in Ancona, Italy, where a new EMA Constitution was debated. A screen shot of the FB page on March 23 shows an image of a “vote list” with no Finns present. But Vesa Lappalainen, the former vice president of EMA, reportedly insists that his fellow Finns were present. A well-placed source tells me: “The same mysterious disappearance happened on EMA website, where all news from April 2 (2016) till December 31 (2016) are deleted.” Of course, nothing is EVER fully deleted from the Intertubes. You can still see many or all of those missing posts via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. So nah-nah-nah-nah-nah! Meanwhile, a new “Friends of EMA” Facebook page has launched. Anyone can join.

April 20, 2017  One Comment

Meet North Carolina’s Musa Gwanzura: Daegu silver medalist in 3K

Gareth Farrell photo of M45 Musa, who’s lived more than half his life in ‘Merica.

At 2015 indoor nationals, M40 Musa Gwanzura made up a 20-yard gap on the last lap to win the 3000 in 9:08.88. (See the video.) No wonder he made it look easy. He’s a former 4:04 miler who helped Abilene Christian win an NCAA Div. II indoor title in the late 1990s. Now he’s getting attention from his local North Carolina paper for having taken second in the Daegu 3000 in 9:00.34. He still runs for his native Zimbabwe, but he’s made his home in America since his 20s. “I’m really an 800- or 1,500-meter guy,” he told the paper, “but with age when you run races you lose all of your speed. These legs man, they complain now. That’s the issue. I can still run a pretty good mile, but it’s the work I put in now. There’s some risk for getting injured when I do my speed work.” He’s not a Yank for affiliation purposes, but he’s one sharp American runner.

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April 19, 2017  No Comments

Joy Upshaw replaces Mark Cleary as head of masters exhibitions

Mark attends USATF conventions as West Regional coordinator.

Mark Cleary has lost his USATF role as coordinator of the Masters Invitational Program. Rex Harvey, the new national masters T&F chair, says Joy Upshaw will take over in a newly reconfigured Exhibition Events program. I’m hoping to learn details on this soon. Mark — who had run the program for better or worse since 2000 — had applied for the position, but wasn’t chosen, Rex says. “We are looking forward to renewed energy and innovation in the new program,” Rex says. “It is one of our best promotion opportunities, so we want to get it right. As to why not Mark, you would have to ask the Executive Committee.” I’ve also queried Mark for his reaction. He hasn’t responded either. Over the years, Mark has taken a lot of flak (including from me) on the narrow choice of events — mainly sprints and middle distances. But the SoCal TC coach had good explanations for the focus. (A few hurdles events also were contested). And he had to knock heads more than a few times with USATF committee chairs to get events into the Trials. The exhibitions were at open nationals, indoors ands out, and places like Mt SAC and Drake. The first exhibition was a mixed-gender 200 at indoor nationals. (See results through the years.) Mark is still listed as coordinator in the USATF Organizational Directory. That should be updated ASAP. The lone remaining 2017 event listed is the men’s and women’s 400s at Sacramento open nationals. Four men and four women are currently listed as applicants.

Joy is the No. 1 cheerleader of masters track, here with M100 Don Pellmann.

April 18, 2017  13 Comments

Peter Snell entered in World Masters Games (just the wrong sport)

M75 Olympian Peter Snell, one of New Zealand’s greatest middle-distance runners, says he and his wife, Miki, will compete at the World Masters Games in Auckland opening Friday. Too bad it’s only in table tennis. At least we have W100 sprinter Man Kaur to cheer. The New Zealand Herald reports: “Man Kaur has travelled more than 13,000km to reach Auckland, so what’s 100 metres more for this remarkable 101-year-old athlete from India. Kaur and her 79-year-old son Gurdev have arrived for the World Masters Games, where she will compete in the 100m, 200m, javelin and shot put. After 19 hours of flying over two days, Kaur entered the Auckland Airport arrival hall in a wheelchair and happily took questions from NZME, with her son translating for the Games oldest competitor.”

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April 17, 2017  One Comment