Steve Robbins summarizes 50-plus years of sprinting lessons

Last year, just before Olathe nationals, I visited my alma mater KU and stopped by Watson Library. I went up to a random librarian and said: “I have to apologize for tearing out a piece of Life magazine in the mid-70s.” I ripped out a quote: “Hurdling is good training for a writer.” The counter guy just looked at me like: Whatever. Now I think writing is good training for a sprinter. Hall of Famer Steve Robbins, the world champ and WR man, has shared a wonderful 3,400-word treatise he wrote three years ago. (He shared it with me after reading Wayne Bennett’s sprint advice.) Too much to summarize in Steve’s version, but I really like his truth-telling: “The ‘magic’ bullets, if you can call them that, are having the right parents and hard training. When a world-class masters athlete tells you he or she takes some supplement and how terrific it is, the fact is that they’d probably be just as good without the supplement. There are, unfortunately, no shortcuts to top performances.” Steve should write a book on masters speed, adding to his collection of biz manuals.

Steve (center) beat Aussie Peter Crombie and Kenton Brown at 2011 Sacramento worlds 100.


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August 21, 2014  8 Comments

Bill Melville dies at 87; world-class sprinter was big force for years

Bill Melville had a gut — and guts. He ran faster than anyone with a beer belly had a right to do. So I was saddened to learn from Peter Taylor that Bill died Monday of kidney and lung cancer. Peter says he got the news from Bill’s wife, Goldie Melville. “Bill was 87 and resided in Platteville, Wisconsin,” Peter wrote. “The ‘Big Train,’ as I liked to call him, was quite a rumbler on the track and took down more than his share of gold medals. As you may recall, in Riccione (world outdoors) in 2007, Bill stampeded to victory in both the 100 (15.33) and 200 (32.08).  This, of course, was in the M80 division. Eight years earlier, in Orlando, Bill won both the 100 (13.34) and 200 (28.48) to win the gold at nationals. He was 72 at the time.”

Second from left, Bill was third in the 100 at perhaps his last major meet: 2013 Olathe nationals.

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August 20, 2014  3 Comments

‘I might have been another Carl Lewis,’ Champion Goldy says at 97

I don’t write enough about the best name in masters track: M95 Champion Goldy Sr. But his local paper did me a favor with this great profile. We learn some interesting things about Champ, 97, a member of the M90 relay teams that set WRs at North Carolina nationals. For example: “I’d like to run in the Penn Relays when I’m 100,” he said. “I could never beat anybody at that age, but I did beat a guy who was 85 years old a couple of times.” And: “The crazy thing is, if I had some coaching, I might have been another Carl Lewis. As a 14-year-old, they tell me I did the 100 in 10.2, and that’s pretty fast.” He’s still plenty fast. See you at Penn!

Champ outside home with his N.C. medals. Photo by Douglas Bovitt of Courier-Post

Champ with his N.C. nationals medals. Photo by Douglas Bovitt of Courier-Post

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August 19, 2014  One Comment

Wayne’s Wisdom: M75 Bennett shares bounty on faster sprinting

A couple weeks ago, M75 sprinter Wayne Bennett sent me a paper he wrote, saying that coaches who say “run yourself silly and then run some more” is bad advice, especially for masters. “This just tears up the body and tires it out,” Wayne writes from Texas. So he attached a short paper he once wrote and says he believes it really works. He begins: “One of the things that I have noticed is that a lot of sprinters don’t really know what to concentrate on in their training. Too many of them rely on what they remember from high school and college days. All too often that training was faulty.”

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August 18, 2014  11 Comments

Oscar Peyton says in his 20s he could have beaten Usain Bolt

M60 Oscar Peyton wasn’t boasting. He was just matter-of-fact talking about his never-realized potential as an open sprinter. Our frequent national sprint champ — who beats Bill Collins on rare occasions — was being featured in a local TV segment. He notes that he didn’t run track till his 50s. So his guess on his elite/open speed is as good as anyone’s. Gotta love the big guy (6-foot-4) comparing himself to the Jamaican legend.

Oscar takes the 2 at North Carolina nationals ahead of Damien Leake. Good lift.

August 17, 2014  8 Comments

Irene Obera won’t be IAAF World’s Best Master Athlete in 2014

San Jose, Costa Rica, stadium hosting NCCWMA meet starting Aug. 21.

World Masters Athletics, like USATF, has a dumb policy on end-of-year awards: Play in our games, or no global honors to your name. That’s the upshot of an email sent by WMA Regional President Sandy Pashkin to USATF Masters Awards Committee chair Mary Trotto and Canadian counterpart Brian Keaveney. Sandy wrote Friday: “Brian and Mary, If Canada or the USA wants to nominate a male and/or a female for the WMA 2014 Best Master Athlete, please use this form. A reminder that they must have competed in Budapest [indoor worlds] or will compete in Costa Rica [WMA regionals]. I can check if someone competed in either meet. The form is due back to me by the 31st of August – no extensions.” Lots of superstar Americans (and Canadians) won’t be able to check either box, including Irene Obera, who didn’t go to Hungary and isn’t entered in the Costa Rica meet in five days. Yeah, I get it. WMA wants to boost its attendance. But how do you keep a straight face if the likes of Incredible Irene aren’t even considered for IAAF kudos? And don’t the Eurovets have an unfair advantage this year — since indoor worlds were in their neighborhood? Why can’t nationals be sufficient? Irene was there.

August 16, 2014  15 Comments

Noo Yawk accents galore in Newsday video on Bohemia TC women

Newsday is a big-time news outlet for NYC suburbanites, and this week it profiled several women of the Bohemia TC, including stars Caryl Senn-Griffiths and Mary Trotto, who does everything under the sun. The video is priceless. The story is worth checking out as well. A highlight: “Come and try something. Try anything. You’ll love it,” said Sue Nesbihal, 65, a retired Nassau County probation officer from Islip Terrace. “You don’t have to be great at it. You don’t have to be good at it. If you throw 30 meters in the javelin, people are going to cheer for you. But if you go out there — and it’s your first time — and you throw 10 meters, people cheer for you.”

Mary Trotto with her steeple towel, which she learned to use during Porto Alege rainstorm.

At N.C. steeple, Mary Trotto has her towel, remnant of Porto Alegre rainstorm.

August 15, 2014  One Comment

Missing the 1972 Games, she isn’t missing out now as W55 star

Yes, you can. That’s the message of masters track to many of us. Yes, you can go back to your track star youth. And Wendy Alexis got the message big time in her late 50s. As Martin Cleary writes in a wonderful Ottawa Citizen profile: “After double leg surgery, a doctor said she would never run again. Alexis, however, tried for five years, but never reached a finish line. A career as a teacher was easier on her health. ‘I loved taking my son to practice,’ Alexis, 59, said. ‘We’d talk track and he’d say there are old people (training) at the track. My life was just so crazy. Teaching sucks you in.’ Track and field has the same effect. ‘I couldn’t sleep that night (after her first masters practice). Part of me lives for the track because I didn’t finish what I had started.’ ”

Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club's Wendy Alexis, left, heads for the finish line and a victory in the women's 55-59 age group 200-metre final at the world masters indoor athletics championships in Budapest. Photo by Doug Smith

Wendy (left) heads for 200 gold at Budapest worlds. Photo by Doug Smith

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August 14, 2014  8 Comments

Steve Peters sweeps M60 sprints at British masters nationals

Jo Pavey kicked kiddie butt in Zurich 10K.

Athletics Weekly (aka the British T&FN but actually covering all of track) reports on old-reliable Steve Peters taking the 1, 2 and 4 at British masters nationals over the weeken. Steve is tbe UK version of Bill Collins — class act, fast act. AW says: “He had won world titles last year but his commitments elsewhere had limited his own athletic outings. His 12.38 and 57.03 100m and 400m on the opening day were followed by a 200m win at lunchtime on the Sunday in 24.64, faster than the M55 winner. He said he was most pleased by his work with Commonwealth 100m silver medalist Adam Gemili.” Steve is a world-class sports psychologist (whom I tried to psych out at the Lahti wait room to no avail). Results of the Aug. 9-10 meet attracting 650 to Birmingham are posted here. In other British vets news, Jo Pavey won the Euro open 10K Tuesday in 32:22.39 “to become, at 40 years of age, the oldest ever female European champion and claim her first major title.” The listed W40 WR is 31:40.97.

Steve Peters was pushed in several sprints, but has plenty in the tank.

Steve Peters was pushed in several sprints, but has plenty in the tank.

August 13, 2014  No Comments

Curt Morgan on Stephanie Timmer, Marilyn Coleman: Too Good

In his last missive from masters nationals, Curt Morgan writes: Talk about scary good! Over in the women’s heavyweight throw at the 2014 nationals, you’d find W45 Stephanie Timmer, surely the fastest lady marathoner (best: a phenomenal 3:17) ever to cop double masters weight golds (both shot and discus in Winston-Salem). The “scary” part? Since she’s legally blind (from macular degeneration), this former Marine Corps officer actually needs a guide (Linda Swenson) to find her way into the ring. Alternating with other throwers was W35 Marilyn Coleman, whose ballet-like moves as she spins across the ring combine a dancer’s artistry with pure raw power. How she nearly sends the weight into low Earth orbit is also scary (as in, scary beautiful).

Mistresses of the (Throwing) Universe: Stephanie Timmer (left) and Marilyn Coleman compare muscle development. Photo by Linda Swenson

Mistresses of the (Throwing) Universe: Stephanie Timmer (left) and Marilyn Coleman compare muscle development. Photo by Linda Swenson


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August 12, 2014  One Comment