Meanwhile back at the kiddie meet, geezers holding their own

Masters-age athletes are sprinkled around London, including 39-year-old Bulgarian gymnasts. (Catch that guy on the rings!?) But track has its share. Two-time gold medalist Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania took fourth in the discus yesterday, throwing 67.38 (221-1) — at age 40. M35 Jamie Nieto, whose 2.31 (7-7) in June equals the listed WR by Dragutin Topic, took sixth in the Olympic high jump at 2.29 (7-6). The listed M35 American record is 2.15 (7-0½) by new M55 recordleaper Jim Barrineau. And how about Felix Sanchez! He wins 400 hurdle gold in Athens, slumps at Beijing (after hearing his grandmother had died just before prelims) and comes back to win gold at London in 47.63 three weeks before turning 35. I’m sure I’m missing others. Fill me in.

Jamie beat the defending world champ in the London final, and soared 7-6.

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August 8, 2012

16 Responses

  1. Rob Jerome - August 8, 2012

    High jumper Amy Acuff just turned 37 and she will compete tomorrow in the qualifying round. Jamie was the oldest guy in Men’s High Jump, but Amy beats him by two years.

    This is Amy’s 5th Olympics, I think. Not many others can lay claim to that distinction.

  2. Emiliano - August 8, 2012

    Unfortunately, 36 year-old sprinter Kim Collins will not be competing, due to an unfortunate disciplinary sanction by his country’s committee. It would have been great to see him run against his younger opponents.

  3. Rob Jerome - August 8, 2012

    By the way, Jamie’s 2.31 at Icahn in June was better than the three guys who tied for the the Bronze yesterday. They all jumped 2.29 and so did Jamie, but he got 6th based on previous misses.

    Not sure Jamie used the right strategy yesterday. He skipped his third attempt at 2.33 and waited for 2.36, which he missed.

    All of the Bronze winners also missed 2.33. If Jamie had used his third attempt at 2.33 and cleared it, he would have been the sole Bronze Medal winner.

  4. Matt McCubbins - August 8, 2012

    I was wondering about Jamie’s strategy too – – maybe he felt like he was fading fast and wanted to go for the win with one last big jump? Nonetheless, heck of an effort on his part. At 35, though, Jamie was NOT the oldest man in the field. That honor went to Dragutin Topic (41) of Serbia, our M40 World Record holder. Sadly, Drag no-heighted at the opening bar (2.16m) in qualifying on Sunday. Bummer, I was hoping he could get to the finals.

  5. Ken Stone - August 8, 2012

    In 1996, I watched Charles Austin pass a height after two misses. He made the next height and won gold. Works sometimes.

  6. Rob Jerome - August 8, 2012


    You’re right. Topic was the oldest guy in the competition. I emailed Jamie after his 2.31 at Icahn Stadium in June to tell him that his mark tied him with Topic for the World Record in Masters M35-39 and told him that I hoped he would get into Masters competition someday. He responded and seemed pleased with the record, but lukewarm about getting into Masters…but of course his sights were on the Olympics at the time.

    Would be great publicity if some of the Masters-age Olympians would compete in Masters meets. Who knows? Maybe spectators might even show up.

  7. Matt McCubbins - August 8, 2012

    Yes Rob, that would be awesome to see more of the former world class folks participate in Masters events. I’ve tried to figure out why we don’t see it more often….several possible reasons come to mind. Perhaps some feel that performing at age-diminished levels might detract from their legacy in the sport (both in their own minds, and in others’ views). Or the reasons could be far more practical just like for everyone else – – too busy with career or family or simply can’t because of chronic/permanent injuries. Or I wonder if many are just ready to move on to other endeavors after a lifetime of grinding with training and competing.

    In masters high jumping, we’re lucky to have Jim Barrineau as a regular and enthusiastic participant. I hope Jim will weigh-in on this topic. And Jim, if you read this, congrats on your 1.80m at Lisle – another American Record! I didn’t arrive until the next day, but Kenny Drollinger told me about it. Fantastic! Looking back over the rankings, I see that is your best mark in 4 years! What the heck are your training secrets?!?

  8. Rob Jerome - August 8, 2012

    The great Olympian Willie Banks is a regular participant in Masters. Since he is President of the 6000-member of US Olympians Association, it would interesting to know his view on why so few American Olympians go on to compete in Masters.

    At international meets, we see quite a few former Olympians from other countries competing in Masters…especially those from former Soviet bloc countries.

    A good example is Ljubica Gabric-Calvesi, formerly of Croatia, now representing Italy. Believe it or not, she competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics…and still competes. She’s 97.

  9. ventsi - August 9, 2012

    Just to add more master-age athletes successfully competing at the Olympic Games in London:
    – Koji Murofushi (age 37, almost 38) – bronze medal in hammer throw – 78.71 m!
    – Yamile Aldama (after several days she will turn 40!) – 5-th in triple jump – 14.48 m!

    Sure there are some race walkers and marathon runners in masters’ age.

  10. Dexter McCloud - August 9, 2012

    I think a couple of reasons that Olympic-caliber athletes don’t participate in Masters competitions is:

    1) Money – whenever I talk to one of the athletes about competing in masters, their first response is, “how much does it pay if I win”? What we take for granted is that they are PROFESSIONAL athletes. This is how they make their living. So, the idea that they would compete “for free” is foreign to them. Especially, when they can still compete against younger athletes.

    2) The perception among Masters athletes is that it’s just for “old people”. Most of them feel like competing in Masters is a sign that they can no longer compete against the younger athletes. Which, in their mind, means it’s time to hang up their shoes…

  11. Xavier Ibarreta - August 9, 2012

    Love Felix Sanchez! He really gave it his all for the long hurdles on this one, especially since he has been under performing the last few yrs. I thought his career was done. He proved me wrong:)

  12. Herb Stein - August 9, 2012

    How about Chris Brown of the Bahamas? 44.79 for 4th in the men’s 400 at age almost 34. He’s also a key member of the Bahama’s 4X400 relay team that has a decent chance of upsetting a depleted USA squad tomorrow.

  13. Andrew Hecker - August 9, 2012

    Oleksandr (or Aleksandr) Dryhol didn’t throw well in the Hammer but threw PR and Masters M45 WR 79.42 earlier in the year to get there. His previous PR was set 22 years ago in 1990. First time Olympian at age 46.

  14. Ken Stone - August 9, 2012

    And on Thursday, almost 36-year-old Fabrizio Donato of Italy took bronze in the triple jump, going 17.48 (57-4 1/4). The M35 WR is 17.92 (58-9 1/2) by Britain’s Jonathan Edwards, a few years after the elite WR of 60-0 and change.

  15. ventsi - August 10, 2012

    Yes, the 46-years old hammer thrower Olexander Dryhol is amazing.

    Chandra Sturrup (age 41) ran in 4x100m heats for Bahamas, but they didn’t qualify for the final.

    It is a pity that Slovenia’s 4x100m team was not in London, to see the 52-year old Merlene Ottey in action (she ran at the European Championships in Helsinki in the end of June this year).

  16. Jim Barrineau - August 11, 2012

    I walked out of the LA Coliseum on June 24, 1984 at the ripe old age of 29 thinking, “well, that’s it (for world class level competition). “. Fact is, with very little training I cleared 1cm less than at the trials the next year and a 3cm less two years after that with very little training. We are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Professional track has given athletes the ability to see their potential to the end. With healthier lifestyles and better sports medicine we can keep going. To me Masters track is a manifestation of the desire to fulfill our athletic potential, cut short by the demands of work and family obligations and societal expectations or simply lack of opportunity. The simple mental exercise of going through a competition is probably a greater benefit than the physical side. No where else in today’s society can you focus the mind the way you must in athletic competition. This is not about egos or money. Okay, back to you guys……

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