M35 world champ Stew Marshall puts COVID-19 in rearview mirror, updates WMA site

In 2016, Stewart Marshall of Great Britain competed in his first world masters meet — in Perth, Australia. It didn’t go well. He entered the 200 and 400 but “made the quick decision” not to run the deuce due to injury the week after his nationals. Then in the 400 final, he was DQ’d. But he came home with two M35 golds in the 4×1 and 4×4 relays. And in 2017, he further showed his dedication to our niche sport by becoming the website manager for World Masters Athletics. In 2018, he made up for Perth by winning the M35…


Question for national chair Jerry Bookin-Weiner: What out-of-competition drug testing?

Reno is a good bet for improving masters communications. Following the 2008 annual meeting there, national masters chair Gary Snyder launched a blog. It didn’t last long, but it showed the way. Later, he and Rex Harvey used National Masters News to report to the masses. And Rex would pop up on Facebook. Rest his soul. Now just months after the 2019 Reno annual meeting, Jerry Bookin-Weiner, Rex’s successor as national chair, has announced he’ll use Facebook (at least two groups) to share thoughts and parry questions. That’s great. On Saturday, he posted to the USATF Masters group and the…


Possible WMA world meets if virus vanishes: 2023 Spokane indoors and 2024 Daegu outdoors

Margit Jungmann of Germany, the president of World Masters Athletics, used to do the heptathlon. That’s helpful in her current gig — juggling two dozen jobs. The most important? Protecting lives. Like doctors, nurses and other heroes, Margit and her fellow council members will be making decisions in the coming months on the fate of our health — and sport. Will she permit cities to move forward on world and regional championships amid The Beast, COVID-19? It’s now accepted science that the earlier we adopt strict social-distancing and other steps, the better we have a chance of escaping the worst…


Pan-American Masters Games in Rio unfazed by virus news, still on track for September

Masters athletes with a taste for danger are in luck! They can still compete on a world stage this year — at the Pan-American Masters Games in Rio de Janeiro. The track meet is Sept. 4-13 at the University of the Air Force in Rio (Universidade da Força Aérea). And the price for joining “between 10 and 20 thousand sportspeople” in “24 sports! 49 disciplines! 25 venues!”? “The registration fee is US$ 205, for foreigners. Each registration gives the participant the right to take part in two sports and five competitions in each one of them,” says the site, which…


COVID-19 claims Mary Roman, 84, who deserved to win throws medals into her 100s

In 2003, Mary Roman suffered a heart attack. Just a speed bump in life. As a high-schooler, she had polio — before the vaccine. (Riding horses strengthened her legs.) A masters athlete since 1991 — after seeing her late husband, Granville, compete in Senior Olympic swimming — she tried the half-marathon, sprints and jumps but made throws her specialty. She set countless American records. At 84, Mary was entered at Baton Rouge. Coronavirus canceled that indoor nationals, and today it also wiped out the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Toronto world meet, where Mary would have excelled. But in the deepest…


Setting viral WRs while dodging the virus: W55 Anne Gilshinan, M60 Anselm LeBourne

On opposite sides of the Atlantic are mirror image middle-distance legends — W55 Anne Gilshinan of Wexford in southeast Ireland and M60 Anselm LeBourne of West Orange, New Jersey. Both have crushed multiple world records this indoor season and are poised to rewrite outdoor records for the 800, 1500 and mile. But they’re no different from you and me in one respect. We’re all navigating the coronavirus. Every day, the warnings get sterner. Today I watched my governor, California’s Gavin Newsom, say I (being 65 or over) should keep indoors. (I went for a sunset walk in the park with…


A virus manifesto: Time to show why they call us masters and not slaves

Last Sunday, while waiting to run a slow-speed 100 at a San Diego all-comers meet, one of my friends asked me urgently: Do you think indoor nationals will be canceled? She would turn 70 on Thursday, the day before the meet, and was looking forward to a bunch of medals as the baby of her age group. She considered me in-the-know. So I confidently predicted Baton Rouge nationals would go on. “It’s way too late to cancel,” I said. Everyone knows how that turned out. Since Monday, when the LOC wisely pulled the plug and later announced refunds of entry…


Coronavirus fears force 10-month delay in European masters indoor champs

Coronavirus concerns have led to a long delay in the European masters indoor championships, originally set for March 15-21 in Braga, Portugal. The meet will be pushed back 10 months to January 2021. But organizers of WMA worlds in Toronto say that meet is still on track for July 20-August 1. USATF HQ in Indy issued a statement March 3: “USATF wants to assure you that we take the ​health, safety, and well-being of our membership very seriously…. Currently, all events are proceeding as planned. Please understand, we are following guidance issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the…


M60 Vaulter’s Uplifting Memoir: ‘Finally Fit’ Gives Bubba Sparks a Long-Overdue Boost

Spend an hour with Bubba Sparks and you’re a goner. You’ll become a vaulter. In the case of author John H. Clark III, all it took was a Facebook query to Bubba, his older classmate from Houston’s Scarborough High School. “Do you think I could take up pole vaulting for the first time in my life at 60 years old?” Of course, Bubba said: “Let’s go!” John’s journey from “couch potato” to National Senior Games entrant is movingly told in his latest book — “Finally Fit: It’s Never Too Late to Achieve a Dream.” Published six days after Valentine’s Day,…


Kathy Bergen, Jenn Suhr lead Americans setting early 2020 world records

The race is on. Who will set more masters world records this year — Americans or Europeans? A month ahead of the Eurovets indoor meet in Braga, Portugal, and USATF indoor nationals at Baton Rouge, the Americans hold a big lead. The Yanks boast 13 indoor WRs. Our Europeeps have four. (But some U.S. marks are relays, where many of those WRs are soft or nonexistent because the M65, M75, W85 types are new, being 5-year age groups. Old records were in 10-year increments.) Leading the way is SoCal’s Kathy Bergen, who traveled to the USATF Masters Southwest Region Indoor…