Aussies post masters history: Who knew Nixon was a booster?

Age Is No Barrier (PDF)

Age Is No Barrier (PDF)

Age Is No Barrier, a colorful history of masters track in Australia by Bryan Thomas, is a book published several years ago. It’s now online as a 154-page PDF with lots of photos. Bryan draws on earlier works by Jack Pennington and Gloria Seymons. Lots of ground covered. It notes the “fun runs” of the early 1960s involving older “joggers,” which helped inspire the American running boom when Bill Bowerman paid a visit to Arthur Lydiard. The book notes the intersections of Aussie and U.S. masters track, especially David Pain’s track tours in the early 1970s. In 1968, however, Aussie distance star Cliff Bould stayed with David at the first American masters nationals in San Diego. (Cliff won the 3- and 6-mile runs and the marathon in the over-50 division.). “In 1969,” the book recalls, “Richard Nixon, USA President, gave the veterans’ movement valuable credibility when he said in a letter supporting the 2nd U.S. Masters Championships in San Diego: ‘It gives men over 40 the opportunity to engage in athletic competition …Age should be no barrier in the pursuit of excellence’”

In 1971, the first New South Wales meet in Sydney had four age groups: 35-39 years (designated as Juniors), 40-49 (Seniors), 50-59 (Masters) and over 60 years (Grand Masters).

“An interesting condition attached to a participant’s entry requirements for these and other early veterans’ championships, was that ‘a Doctor’s Certificate only required if you had not participated this season’”

The book cites a warmup meet at San Diego’s “Bilboa Stadium.” (Make that Balboa.) In San Diego, Wal Sheppard set M50 world records in the 800 and 1500 of 2:06 and 4:24.2, respectively.

The current listed WRs are 1:58.65 (by Nolan Shaheed) and 4:05.2 (by an Aussie, Tom Roberts). The Aussies are still awesome.

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December 30, 2013

2 Responses

  1. Jeff Davison - December 31, 2013

    Please note that David’s efforts for the first USA Nationals included contact with the President, Congressman and former Olympians. Mr. Ryan being in two of those catagories. David worked hard to grow the sport.

  2. Ed Whitlock - January 1, 2014

    The M50 world 1500m record of 4:05.2 by my old friend and rival, Tom Roberts was set in March 1984, it is one of the oldest records on the books. Knee troubles overtook him, his last WMA championship was Gateshead

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