W70 Roman gets royal writeup in Connecticut

Only a few decades ago, a 70-year-old woman competing in track and field would have been subject to raised eyebrows. Now she gets an admiring nod from her local newspaper. See how the Stamford Advocate told the story of Charlotte entrant Mary Roman. See Bob Greeney’s July 23 story below, headlined “Roman Wonder: Norwalk’s Roman takes aim at marks in U.S. Masters track as well.”

“She’s got a great work ethic as far as training goes. To be a weight thrower and to want to do sprints because it helps her quickness, I admire her for doing that. ” –Friend, competitor of Mary Roman
NORWALK — For those who come across Mary Roman occasionally, they may only know her as that nice woman who is helpful in her vocation as the City Clerk in Norwalk.
But those who know Roman well realize what a remarkable athlete she is.
Roman, 70, is a Masters track and field American record holder in several events.
She has accomplished much despite suffering a heart attack three years ago, and she is prepared to haul in more gold medals, and perhaps records, in the female 70-74 age division at the USA Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships Aug. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C.
This all emanated simply because Roman was supportive wife 19 years ago when her husband Granville competed in swimming events in the 1987 Senior Olympic Games in St. Louis.
As an observer, Mary Roman caught the bug and a competitive seed was sown.
“That’s how I got started. He was doing the Senior Olympic Games in swimming. I saw all the fun the seniors had and I said ‘I can’t wait until I turn 55.’ How many women say that?” Roman said with a laugh.
Roman has excelled in all age divisions through the years.
Roman, who turned 70 last September, collected many gold medals and American records in indoor track and field last winter, and in outdoor track and field this spring in her new age division.
At the Dartmouth Relays in January, Roman set American indoor age-group records in the shot put (27 feet, 6 3/4 inches) and the weight throw (34-1 1/2).
Roman hauled in four gold medals in March at the USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships where she won the shot put (26-3 1/2), weight throw (31-7), 60-meter dash (11.42) and 200 (40.43).
At the Southeastern Masters Championships in May at Duke University, Roman set American outdoor records in the hammer throw (72-10), shot put (25-9) and superweight throw (18-10 1/2) and was named top field events performer in her age group.
Barbara Jordan, the best sprinter in the United States in the 70-74 age division, is amazed at how Roman excels in the throwing events and is also a strong sprinter.
“She’s got a great work ethic as far as training goes. To be a weight thrower and to want to do sprints because it helps her quickness, I admire her for doing that,” Jordan said. “She has worked hard to help her speed because it helps her explosiveness in throwing, and she has improved her time tremendously the last couple years.”
Jordan and Roman attended Springfield College together and recognized each other at a Masters track meet after not seeing each other for nearly 40 years. They’ve become great friends and often travel together to track meets.
Roman and her husband loved going to each other’s competitions to support each other and meet new friends before Granville passed away from cancer in 1999. Granville Roman was a popular teacher and guidance counselor in the Stamford school system and was principal at Turn of River Middle School until he retired in 1989.
In January of 2005, Mary Roman finished a half marathon while mixing in walking and running at Disney World and she raised $5,000 from sponsors for Team Leukemia as a member of Team in Training.
That was 20 months after her heart attack, and a month before she was supposed to compete in a Masters meet in Puerto Rico. She had chest pains, had trouble breathing, the chest pains got more severe and she dialed 911.
“I was very fortunate,” Roman said. “I had a good doctor, the ambulance came and got me to Norwalk Hospital and they transferred me to Bridgeport Hospital. Three months after my heart attack I had a nuclear stress test, and the doctor said everything’s all right.
“Maybe after having a heart attack, where she might think: ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this,’ but (instead) for her to say: ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ I just admire her tremendously,” Jordan said.
“That heart attack was just a headache, a minor setback for her,” said Roman’s son, Craig, who was a champion hurdler at Brien McMahon High School in the mid-1970’s. “When we saw her in the hospital, she said she wanted to get out of the bed and go because she felt great, I wasn’t really surprised that she was going to compete after her heart attack. She just wanted to get back out there and go. Nothing is stopping this woman. She’s just a remarkable woman.”
Mary Roman has done an array of cross training for her recovery and to get to her current fitness level.
For her running, she has workouts at a track. She’ll begin by walking 800 meters, then jogging 400 meters. “That’s just to get the heart rate going. Then you stretch because you stretch after your muscles are warmed up,” Roman explained. “Then I do speed workouts. I’ll run 50 meters, repeat that and do it as hard as I can for four times.”
Roman lifts free weights at home and she’ll use weight machines, the rowing machine and the treadmill two or three times a week.
Twice a week during her lunch hour she participates in the kickboxing aerobics program sponsored by the City of Norwalk.
“I’ll do the kickboxing and after work on Thursday’s I’m taking the Fred Astaire ballroom dancing classes,” Roman said. “That’s a good cardio workout because when you’re doing the Tango and the Cha cha, that’ll get your heart rate up. I’ll do the slow ones like the Foxtrot and the Waltz to warm up, then I’ll do the others.”
Roman is using a regional Masters meet at Springfield College this weekend and next weekend’s Nutmeg Games to prepare for the national championships, where she’ll run the 100 and 200, and throw the shot put, hammer, weight and discus.
“Naturally, I’d like to get some more national records at the meet,” Roman said. “In my 100 and 200, I don’t expect anything. I think I have a good chance at gold in the shot put, the weight throw and the hammer, because there aren’t that many women in the 70-74 age group. There are five of us in the sprints and three or four in field events. I’m really competitive, so every time I go out there I want to do something. I don’t know if I can get more records but I think I can get gold medals.”
“Mary is such a great person,” Jordan said. “She’s really a great friend to all of the competitors. Some people want to win and so forth. She’s just a real nice competitor. She really encourages other people.”
“I’m very proud of what my Mom has done in the past years,” Craig Roman said. “I’m very proud of what she’s accomplished in sports and in her life. Whenever she got her mind set on doing something, she went out and did it and always accomplished it with high honors.”

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July 23, 2006

2 Responses

  1. Larry Libow - July 25, 2006

    I’ve only recently had the pleasure of getting to know Mary Roman. First off, she looks far younger than 70 and is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. After years of competing unattached, we were very fortunate that Mary has chosen to become a member of Mass Velocity Track Club (www.MassVelocity.org). Unfortunately for Mary and everyone else who competed at the Eastern Masters Championships this weekend, weather conditions were monsoon-like and not conducive to great performances.
    That was a wonderful article about a deserving athlete and a great lady. If you see her at a meet, stop by and say hello. You’ll be glad you did.

  2. Phyllis Provost - January 29, 2009

    To Mary Roman:
    It was very inspirational to read the article about you.I am a Masters’ and Senior games
    competitor from Dallas,Texas;but I follow Kens’
    blog so I can follow the women in my age group.
    I will now be in the 75-79 age group and really
    looking forward to that.I haven’t set any National records or go to big meets;mostly because of the distance,however,I do fairly well
    in all the events that I do.I can relate to you
    in some respects:having two strokes four years ago/husband dying 13 yrs.ago.None of it stopped
    me from competing.I do the Masters meets here
    around Dallas but did go to one National in
    Baton Rouge a few years ago.I have been a “runner” for 40yrs/not much of a sprinter.Then,
    I learned to do the throws,high jump and weight
    pentathlon.Used to do triathlons but no more.
    So,the article has given me more inspiration to
    keep on competing in my new group.Thanks.

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