W80 superstar Irene Obera tells athletic life story on radio interview

Irene is a sprint legend going back to age 41.

In a terrific hour-long interview, WMA Athlete of the Year and Hall of Famer Irene Obera (“83 years young,” she says) tells how she evolved from her beloved game of softball to track, where she became a legend with no ending. The chat, graciously flagged by Rob Jerome, starts about 8 minutes in. She begins by saying she thought she was going to be a musician. But when she heard herself on a record she made with friends, she said: “Oh, that can’t be me. I was so pitiful.” First she fell into recreational hoops, walking 4-5 miles to a court. She later met Wilma Rudolph at Tennessee State. She became a PE teacher after attending Chico State. “I thought there was nothing better in this world than softball.” The interviewers on the National and International Roundtable are Arif Khatib, founder and president of the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, and Municipal Court Judge Fad Wilson Jr. She recalls inspirational sayings and stuff. “Records are made to be broken and medals tarnished, but friendships are forever” was one. She recalls winning $160 in an age-graded race. She didn’t get a deserved WMA trip to Monaco for IAAF shindig, but this was nice. “Don’t ever say you’re retired,” she said. “Say you’re on a break.” She’s taking one now (for a year), playing tennis.

February 16, 2017  One Comment

Go, Orville, Go! At 99, runner Rogers plots assault on field WRs, too

Rob Jerome’s iconic image of Orville in 2016 setting M95 WR (16:32.19) in indoor 1500.

At 99, Orville Rogers is just getting started. Famed for his middle-distance exploits and records, Orville says he looks forward to turning 100 so he can enter about five running events and five field events at both indoor and outdoor championships “so I can have 10, 15, 20 world records,” he told his Dallas paper. “He set his first two world records in 2008, 16 years after bypass surgery to open six blocked arteries. The indoor track championships were held two weeks after Beth, his wife of 64 years, died. His family convinced him that she would want him to race. In 2011, Rogers suffered a major stroke. He requested the most rigorous rehab possible and pushed himself to return to his prestroke condition. …. He said he plans to work with Elizabeth Murphy, an assistant throwing coach at SMU, to prepare for field events for the 2018 world meets.” At ABQ nationals this weekend, Orville is entered in the 60, 200, 400, 800 and mile.

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February 15, 2017  One Comment

Russian masters can’t use loophole to compete at Daegu worlds

Last week, the IAAF doubled down on its ban on Russian athletes from international meets (including WMA). But several news outlets noted a loophole being carved out for masters. “Athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 and Masters-level athletes who want to compete ‘neutrally’ [are] allowed to apply to the IAAF’s doping review board for individual consideration,” said swimswam.com. How do you apply for neutral status? Contact info and other details are noted in this PDF. The info sheet says: “Any athlete seeking exceptional eligibility for International Competition under Competition Rule 22.1A should apply in writing without delay by email to the following email address: applications.neutralathletes@iaaf.org. Any delay in making the application is at the athlete’s own risk. … Save in exceptional circumstances, the IAAF will not process applications if they are submitted less than 2 weeks before the entry deadline for the International Competition for which eligibility is sought.” Sadly, the Daegu deadline has passed. (And no “neutral” athletes are listed.) But 2018 Malaga worlds remain a possibility for the Russians. удачи!

February 14, 2017  No Comments

My book for kidlets is out: ‘Make Me the Best at Track and Field’

Last summer, after writing stories for the USOC website, I was contacted by a Minnesota publisher, asking if I would write a children’s how-to book on track and field. Sure, I said. I finished the manuscript in July — before the Rio Games — and it’s now published. Called “Make Me the Best at Track and Field, it’s one of a series of chapter books for grade-schoolers. (Others cover baseball, basketball, soccer, football, lacrosse and hockey.) Abdo Publishing did a super job with design, and found great photos to illustrate my profiles of Usain Bolt, Jenn Suhr and Reese Hoffa, among others. I also gave super-basic technique tips. Since I’m not a coach, my editor hired Mike Corn of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association to check my work. It was fine, he found. Masters won’t benefit. (They can do same Googling I did.) But if you have a grandkid interested in track, this would be a fun gift. I don’t make anything off sale of the book — I just got paid as a freelancer. But my name is on it, so how cool is that?

Book is 48 pages. Next I’ll write a how-to-write-headlines text for 4th-graders.

February 13, 2017  11 Comments

Myrle Mensey tacks foot onto W65 indoor super weight USA record

Myrle (second from left) with fellow super throwers Martha, Ruth, Lew and Tim.

Myrle Mensey of St. Louis added a foot to her listed W65 American indoor record in the super weight throw last weekend, heaving the 20-pound implement 11.36 meters ((37-3 1/4) at a meet in Champaign, Illinois. A year ago, she set the record of 11.06 (36-3) at Albuquerque nationals. (No world records are kept because the event isn’t contested by WMA.) A University of Illinois video guy posted masters throws. Also cited are Lew Breese, Martha Green, Tim Cederblad and Ruth Welding. Our Iowa friend Kay Glynn also competed. At 63, she did the 60 hurdles (13.39), pole vault (2.35/7-8 1/2) and long jump (3.59/11-9 1/4). See results here from Feb. 4 meet.

February 12, 2017  3 Comments

M45 Anthony Whiteman shatters 2 more barriers with WR 1:52.96!

At 45, he seemed out of place. His 800-meter heat at British indoor nationals included a pair of 18-year-olds and two 21-year-olds. (The second-oldest in the field was a 33-year-old who ran 1:54.84.) But Anthony Whiteman’s time fit with the meet’s elite status — 1:52.96. By crashing the 1:54 and 1:53 barriers, Anthony also lowered his own (recent) M45 world record of 1:54.85 (which in turn crushed the listed WR of 1:56.10). His mark overshadowed the masters relays (see results here) at the Millrose Games later Saturday — where Ajee Wilson ran an American record 1:58.27 for 8 and the Duplantis spawn vaulted 5.75 (18-10¼) for a high school record. (Mondo is 17.) Back in the pack of the Wanamaker Mile was 19-year-old Drew Hunter, son of masters sprinter Joan Hunter. Drew clocked 3:56.80. Not bad. Try beating 1:53 in 26 years, kid.

Both Southwest Sprinters foursomes won at Millrose. Photo via Facebook

February 11, 2017  10 Comments

Olympic decathlon champ Dan O’Brien signals masters comeback

Dan at 1998 Goodwill Games.

In 2005 and 2008, Dan O’Brien hinted a masters comeback. Now he’s giving full-throated notice. Bob Weiner reports in his press release for ABQ indoor nationals that the 1996 Olympic decathlon champ (and three-time world champ) had planned to compete in Albuquerque but is injured. “I’m 50 years old now,” Dan said, “but when I won the Olympic and world decathlon titles I felt like I would never get older. But time catches up to all of us. I have a number of physical problems from all those years of training and I’m sad I am not competing this year. But I look forward to taking part when I get through these injuries. I watch in amazement as masters athletes train, compete and push themselves to great limits. So regardless of what level you are, masters track and field encourages a life style of fitness through training and competition. You never lose that thrill of competition and I would love to take part again.” Yowza! That’s great news. Let’s all give Dan some support here. (Bring Dave, too!) Also check out form Bob is circulating to help get local media to cover you.

February 10, 2017  11 Comments

Straddler David Montieth corrects the record: No new M70 record

Rob Jerome photo of David in 2016.

Update. Results site flubbed, and Perth world champion David Montieth didn’t set an American record as first reported. See his comment below. Here’s original post FYI: A season after setting M70 American record indoors and out, David cleared 1.55 (5-1) Sunday to boost the indoor best of 1.53 (5-0¼). He made that mark at the USATF Connecticut Open and Masters Championships in New Haven. (See results here.) The Ridgefield jumper now can set his sights on the all-time M70 HJ best of 1.59 (5-2 1/2) by Sweden’s Carl-Erik Särndal, who cleared that height indoors and out. Special thanks to Curtis Morgan for news of this impressive leap. “Dave has a HJ pit in his basement (he tells me),” Curtis writes. “He is a former small college All-America at Wabash College, Indiana, in the 1960s.” Here’s his jump from a year ago:

February 9, 2017  23 Comments

Doug Torbert claims M65 world indoor shot record at AF Academy

Dave Albo photo of Doug.

As an M60 four years ago, Quenton “Doug” Torbert of California began setting masters shot records. He notched the listed American indoor and outdoor records of 16.25 (53-3 3/4) and 16.69 (54-9 1/4), respectively. Those were with the 5-kilo shot (almost as heavy as the prep implement). On Sunday, he claimed his first world record — M65 shot (still 5-kilos) with a 15.83 (51-11 1/4) at the Mid-America indoor meet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Results haven’t been posted, but I got several confirmations of the mark, which breaks the listed AR of 14.98 (49-1¾) by Glen Johnson in 2006 and the listed WR of 15.69 (51-5 3/5) by Germany’s Kurt Goldschmidt in 2009. The listed outdoor WR is Kurt’s 15.90 (52-2), so Doug is within inches. And the season is young. I wrote to Doug for details on the meet. (Here’s my Q&A with him in 2013.)

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February 8, 2017  6 Comments

British tabloid makes M95 sprinter Charles Eugster a sex symbol

Charles gets the tabloid headline treatment.

For my celebrity-watcher job with MyNewsLA.com, I visit the Daily Mail all the time. So it was a treat to come across a story on 97-year-old WR man Charles Eugster. Actually, he wrote it (and a new book). It contains this: “I was 82 when I lost my wife Elsie. It felt like I had died with her. I could not see beyond a handful of bleak and final years. Conscious that my body was seriously failing me, I became convinced that I would die at 85 and duly began to wind down in preparation. My muscles were wasting away. Alone in the house, I had plenty of opportunity to think. It occurred to me that I was bored and inactive, and both served to accelerate the decline in my physical function. I began to think and read about issues central to my concerns and concluded that, quite simply, our concept of retirement is little more than a slow death sentence.” The rest is about his comeback. It’s amazing what you can do in your late 80s. So I have a quarter-century to get serious about track.

February 7, 2017  One Comment