M50 discus thrower is hungry for record in Riccione
Ralph Fruguglietti, 52, a restaurateur in the Central California town of Shafter is really looking forward to Riccione worlds. 1) He was born in Italy. 2) He throws the discus and hopes to threaten a record. Unfortunately, Ralph is unclear on what the single-age record is. A nice story in today’s Bakersfield Californian refers to Al Oerter’s unofficial single-age M52 best of 62.74 (205-10), set in 1989 at the Eugene worlds. But WMA lists the M50 age-group world record as 68.40 (224-5) by Germany’s Klaus Weiffenbach in 1997. And Klaus was 52 when he did that. A bit better than four-gold Al at 52. Ralph says: “If I break (Al’s) record, I’m going to write him a letter.” Very sorry, Ralph. Maybe we can find Klaus’ address for you.
Here’s the Bakersfield story, in case the link goes buh-bye:
Local restaurant owner throwing for record in Italy
BY EMILY HAGEDORN, Californian staff writer
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Sunday, Jun 17 2007 9:10 PM
Last Updated: Sunday, Jun 17 2007 9:13 PM
It’s the stuff of Roman myth. A once great athlete returns to his homeland to prove he is still mighty by competing in discus, an ancient sport in which athletes throw a heavy disk as far as they can.
Toss in a god or two turning people into flowers and you have a story out of “Bulfinch’s Mythology.”
Kern County’s Ralph Fruguglietti is traveling back to Italy to compete in the World Masters Athletics Championships in September.
This championship is for track-and-field athletes over 35 years old. And while it is an open competition, meaning anyone of age can compete, Fruguglietti, 52, is chasing a lofty goal: a world record.
And he may be able to catch it. After all, he was ranked No. 1 last year in the 50-54 age group, according to www.mastersathletics.net.
He was asked to train for Italy’s Olympic discus team more than 25 years ago.
“Two years ago, I saw it was going to be in Italy, and I thought this was too good to pass up,” he said, sitting in his restaurant, Frugatti’s Italian Eatery, on Coffee Road.
Fruguglietti first picked up a discus while a sophomore in high school in the Bay Area.
That interest grew into skill, which grew into an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California.
On USC’s track team, Fruguglietti came in contact with world-class athletes, many of who went on to medal in Olympic events of their own.
And with Fruguglietti captaining the team in 1976, it won the NCAA championship. In discus, though, the Shafter resident placed second, both in 1976 and 1977, three inches and nine inches away from first place, respectively.
“How many people can say they were 12 inches away from winning?” he joked.
He would also learn later he was only feet from the Olympic Games in 1976.
The qualifying mark to make Italy’s team: 204 feet.
His best throw, which was at the NCAA finals: 202 feet.
“You kind of go back and say, ‘What if?’” he said. “But you can’t go back and change history.”
He’s ranked fourth on the USC list of top discus throws, according to the Trojans’ official Web site, usctrojans.cstv.com.
But all his athletic dreams weren’t dashed. Fruguglietti spent summers in Italy playing for AZ Verde, a track club.
“I showed up at the airport and there were 15 reporters wanting to talk to me,” he said. “It’s a whole different ballgame over there.”
He spent the summers between 1975 and 1977 throwing the discus all over Italy, which is where he fell in love with Italian food and the restaurant business, he said.
“The restaurants would know me by name,” he said. “I would often go in the back of the restaurants and see how it was done.”
Fruguglietti was given another shot to be a medalist. In 1978, the Italian Olympic team wanted him to train to be on their team.
But while touring Italy and perfecting his skill, Fruguglietti had also managed to graduate in business marketing, get a job with IBM and get engaged.
He turned it down.
“My son goes, ‘You mean I could have been born in Italy?’” Fruguglietti said. “You don’t do it for fame and fortune.”
Fruguglietti didn’t pick up a discus again until about 10 years ago when his children became interested in the sport. His daughter, Katina Fruguglietti, now throws the discus for Cal State Bakersfield.
“He’s doing really good for an old guy,” she said. “He’s a stud.”
When Fruguglietti goes to Italy in a few months he will also be going as an American citizen, a first for him.
He will be chasing the record of Al Oerter, the first track-and-field athlete to win four consecutive gold medals, who, at 52, threw the discus 205 feet, according to www.mastersrankings.com.
“I owe this to him,” Fruguglietti said. “For me to be at that level. … It helps validate me.
“If I break his record I’m going to write him a letter.”