Onetime softball player throws herself into the javelin
Linda Cohn of Northridge, California, will fly under my radar no more. Saturday at Long Beach State, she raised her own W50 American Record in the javelin to 39.06 meters (128-2), beating the 500-gram jav best of 37.95/124-6 she set back in April 2004. After reporting Saturday that four world age-group records were set at the Striders’ Meet of Champions, I was alerted to Linda’s own remarkable efforts. To atone for my oversight, I made her acquaintance via email and invited her to tell her story. Which she graciously did. And what a story.
Here’s what Linda shared:
“I was born December 7, 1952, and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I did play softball when I was younger, in park and recreation leagues, and my parents were very supportive, but sports for girls were just not a big deal back then.
“However when I was younger I was always captivated by the Summer Olympic Games. I felt I had random athletic ability and had always wondered if I really practiced something, if I could have been good enough to go to the Olympics.
“I don’t know when, but somehow I heard something about Senior Olympics, and vowed that when I was old enough I would compete in those! (There is a much longer story here, but in the interest of brevity I will leave that part out).
“When I turned 50, I saw a pamphlet for the Huntsman World Senior Games, and realized my opportunity for Senior Olympics had arrived! I saw you could choose from a myriad different sporting activities, but to me, Olympics had always meant track and field.
“I looked at the list of events offered, ruled out anything to do with running, and feeling that I had a decent arm (from softball experience) I decided to learn to throw something. I looked at the options, thought the shot put was too heavy, and decided to learn how to throw that stick” (the javelin).
“My story grows exponentially from this point, but what seemed like a completely random choice at the time, has turned out to really be something I was meant to do. Throwing the javelin has become a passion for me. It is such a technically difficult sport, (for which I had little aptitude) but there is something about it that keeps making me work harder and harder to improve. This (it turns out) was the something I really could work hard at to see how good I could become.
“So my career in track and field started late in life, but I have managed to accomplish quite a bit in the past three years. One of my most unexpected highlights was competing on the College of the Canyons track team for the past two years. That too is a very long story, but truly a wonderful experience which I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“Even though on the surface I appear to be a rather typical 53-year-old woman — married for 29 years, a working dental hygienist for 30 years, mother of two sons, one in medical school and one deciding on which law school to attend — I am really rather odd as far as my athletic pursuits. However I really feel I have found my people at these masters and senior track and field competitions.
“I don’t have to explain to anyone there why I train and why these competitions are so exciting because everyone at these meets feels the same way! I have enjoyed meeting everyone, and though I have just ventured into this world recently, I feel more at home every meet I attend. . . .
“I was somewhat tired by the time we threw the javelin because I had run the 100m, and thrown the discus and shot put earlier in the day. However, it was an enormous thrill to break the old U.S. record for my age group. I had set it previously two years prior on what really felt like a fluke throw. At the time I was throwing around 109 feet and the throw that set the record came out of nowhere. I had trouble the last two years even throwing close to that distance until yesterday.”
As I explored Linda’s credits online, I discovered that she also ran sprints — and very well! She took fourth in the W50 100 at last year’s National Senior Olympics, running 15.30 into a stiff wind. She holds the National Senior Games W50 record in the 50-meter dash at 7.70 in 2003. And her 13-6 long jump at the 2004 Huntsman World Senior Games in 2004 also was a meet record. At last year’s Hawaii masters nationals, she won gold in the triple jump at 9.11/29-10.75.
The listed W50 world record for the javelin is 41.50 (136-2) by Germany’s Regina K. Stange in 2002. Also born in 1952, Regina’s all-time best is 58.82 (193-0), set back in 1978.
Under the 2006 WMA Age-Graded Tables, Linda’s 124-6 is equivalent to an open throw (ages 20-30) of 57.31 meters, or 188-0 and change.
And a few years back, Linda tried out as a contestant for television’s “American Gladiators”.
Anyhoo, here’s Linda spearchucking at Striders: