Most successful track athletes who started late.


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Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:17 pm

I have always heard that in order to be a world class track athlete who have to have been runningtraining before/during puberty. This seems to be the case for the majority of athletes but some people seem to have had success with a very late start or long breaks from the sport during periods some would deem critical.

Carmelita Jeter is one that comes to mind. She started late in high school and ran in college as well but didnt race much from age 23-27 until 2007 and we all know what happened late in the 2009 season. Are there any other examples of people who maybe hadn't raced at all or much until their early twenties etc and became successful in any track and field discipline?
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby cullman » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:29 am

1971 AAU Outdoor 100 yd Champion Dr. Del Meriwether comes to mind. His track career started earlier that year at around age 27.

Rome 1960 double gold medalist Otis Davis didn't run track until age 26.

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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby SantaCruz » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:31 am

Not sure if you can count Jaouad Gharib as an track athlete becauce he biggest successes came in the marathon. He started training seriously at age 22 and competing internationally at age 29 (WC finalist in the 10k). Two time world champion in the marathon (ages 31 and 33), olympic silver medallist at age 36. Ran full and half marathon pbs shortly before turning 37.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby nevetsllim » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:54 am

Edith Masai didn't start racing competitively until about 33-34.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby 18.99s » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:04 am

Jen Toomey started running at 24 for a local marathon, and at 31 she was on the 2003 World Championships team for the US, reaching the semifinals of the 800m. In 2004 at 32 she placed 4th in the World Indoor Championships in under 2 minutes. She placed 2nd in the 1500m at the US Olympic trials in 2004, but didn't have the A standard.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby mcgato » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:12 am

Priscilla Welch didn't start running until she was 35. Did pretty well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priscilla_Welch
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:55 am

mcgato wrote:Priscilla Welch didn't start running until she was 35. Did pretty well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priscilla_Welch


Yes, Priscilla Welch. I knew her and her late husband David pretty well when I was in Boulder. Very nice and interesting couple. To say she got a late start is putting it mildly. She literally did nothing until she met David and really only started making an impact in the running world when she was 39. And what a moment it was when she won NYC in 1987. She could have run the Olympic Marathon in 1988, but turned it down. (Like just about every other UK women marathoner did that year. It seemed like no one wanted to run that year.)

PS. I wouldn't say he was overly successful, however, he does always win his age group, but my father did his first 5k, in under an hour, at age 90 back in 2000.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Bob Duncan » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:21 am

Another one who comes to mind (like Welch) was marathoner Jack Foster, who took up running at age 32 and was world class within five years, eventually competing in Munich at age 40 and running 2:11 at age 41.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:37 am

Bob Duncan wrote:Another one who comes to mind (like Welch) was marathoner Jack Foster, who took up running at age 32 and was world class within five years, eventually competing in Munich at age 40 and running 2:11 at age 41.


Yes, but wasn't Foster a competitive cyclist before running? Priscilla did nothing and even smoked, if I remember right. And they were both stationed on the Orkney Islands and with nothing to do David got her exercising.

But given all that Foster was a marvel.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:34 pm

Wow hearing all these examples makes me feel like I may not be a longshot for a gold medal in London after all. Know I just need a coach.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Tuariki » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:13 am

Conor Dary wrote:
Bob Duncan wrote:Another one who comes to mind (like Welch) was marathoner Jack Foster, who took up running at age 32 and was world class within five years, eventually competing in Munich at age 40 and running 2:11 at age 41.


Yes, but wasn't Foster a competitive cyclist before running? Priscilla did nothing and even smoked, if I remember right. And they were both stationed on the Orkney Islands and with nothing to do David got her exercising.

But given all that Foster was a marvel.

Jack was a team mate of mine in 1974 when he won the silver at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games at the age of 41. He ran 2 hours 11 minutes 18 seconds. He was a former cyclist having done that in England before he migrated to New Zealand at age 2 in 1956. The same year another Brit migrant won a gold for New Zealand in the 50kmwalk, Norman Read.

Another late starter that I knew when I was at West Point was Mel Pender. His sprint career started in Okinawa in 1962 when he was 25 and in the US Army. i seem to recall that Mel said he only started sprinting because all the soldiers in his unit were ordered to compete in the Okinawa Army track meet. So Mel who was not too thrilled to have to compete in athletics decided to enter the shortest race going. He won, and as they say - and the rest is history.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby aaronk » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:58 am

Ron Clarke of Australia!!

He was a Junior champion of some sort in 1956, right?
Then disappeared for a few years.
Returned in December 1963 with a 10,000 meter World Record of 28:15.6.
And went on in the next few years to turn the world of distance running on its ear!!

And Jenn Stuczynski Suhr!!
Didn't start vaulting until 2005 at age 23.
In just two years, became America's first 16 footer!!
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby 18.99s » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:48 am

Donovan Bailey started training for track in 1991 at 23 years old. But he still had a day job as a stockbroker until 1994 when he ran 10.03.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby doug5321 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:09 am

my favorite starting late story in track was elijah lagat was told by his doctor that he was too fat and needed to lose weight or he would have a heart attack, so he started exercising lightly the gradually increased his exercise in a few years he ran a 2:07 marathon and he also won boston.

how come we dont have fat americans lose weight and then run 2:07 marathons? lol
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby doug5321 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:11 am

mark kiptoo started in his late 20's and has run 12:53 for 5000 and 26:54 for 10000 in his mid 30's
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:12 am

doug5321 wrote:
how come we dont have fat americans lose weight and then run 2:07 marathons? lol


Because a 2:07 marathon doesn't mean much anymore.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby tandfman » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:39 am

Conor Dary wrote:
doug5321 wrote:
how come we dont have fat americans lose weight and then run 2:07 marathons? lol

Because a 2:07 marathon doesn't mean much anymore.

It meant a little more 15 years ago, when he ran that 2:07+.

It still means something if you're an American, and not a Kenyan.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:48 am

tandfman wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:
doug5321 wrote:
how come we dont have fat americans lose weight and then run 2:07 marathons? lol

Because a 2:07 marathon doesn't mean much anymore.

It meant a little more 15 years ago, when he ran that 2:07+.

It still means something if you're an American, and not a Kenyan.


Yea, I know....ho, ho, ho. But, my, how time flies. 15 years ago, a 2:10, even for a Kenyan, was still a big deal.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Bruce Kritzler » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:02 am

Tuariki wrote:Another late starter that I knew when I was at West Point was Mel Pender. His sprint career started in Okinawa in 1962 when he was 25 and in the US Army. i seem to recall that Mel said he only started sprinting because all the soldiers in his unit were ordered to compete in the Okinawa Army track meet. So Mel who was not too thrilled to have to compete in athletics decided to enter the shortest race going. He won, and as they say - and the rest is history.


A guy at work told me he ran (high school or college) track in Nebraska against Mel Pender?

Dick Beardsley (and to a lesser extent Bill Rodgers) both got late starts as runners/marathoners
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:52 am

Bruce Kritzler wrote:
Tuariki wrote:Another late starter that I knew when I was at West Point was Mel Pender. His sprint career started in Okinawa in 1962 when he was 25 and in the US Army. i seem to recall that Mel said he only started sprinting because all the soldiers in his unit were ordered to compete in the Okinawa Army track meet. So Mel who was not too thrilled to have to compete in athletics decided to enter the shortest race going. He won, and as they say - and the rest is history.


A guy at work told me he ran (high school or college) track in Nebraska against Mel Pender?

Dick Beardsley (and to a lesser extent Bill Rodgers) both got late starts as runners/marathoners


Beardsley did run in high school and college. So not really a late start. Just got better later.
I think Rodgers also ran in college, Wesleyan?
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby kuha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:38 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I think Rodgers also ran in college, Wesleyan?


Rodgers did run in high school. I think he was class B (medium size schools) X-C champ his senior year, but otherwise wasn't super great. He also wasn't all that outstanding at Wesleyan, being almost completely overshadowed by Burfoot, who was a couple years older. Burfoot graduated from Wesleyan in '68, so I presume Rodgers graduated ca. 1970. He did basically nothing for several years before getting serious again in 1973. He came to international attention with his impressive World X-C race in early '75.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:43 pm

18.99s wrote:Donovan Bailey started training for track in 1991 at 23 years old. But he still had a day job as a stockbroker until 1994 when he ran 10.03.



Wow!!!! I saw that on his wiki page. How is this not a big deal in the track world???? I am only 26 years old and pretty much wrote myself off since I turned 20. If I lived in Cali or Florida I would probably seriously try to do what some would maybe call impossible.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:48 pm

The cases of late sprinters are way more impressive than late distance runners imo because many distance runners are in their late 30's and 40's. However with Sprinters 35 seems to be the cut off point unless you are Merlene Ottey, Debbie Ferguson, or Linford Christie.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby 18.99s » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:05 pm

fasttrack85 wrote:Wow!!!! I saw that on his wiki page. How is this not a big deal in the track world???? I am only 26 years old and pretty much wrote myself off since I turned 20. If I lived in Cali or Florida I would probably seriously try to do what some would maybe call impossible.


Why do you need to be in Cali or Florida? He did it living in Canada!
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:09 pm

18.99s wrote:
fasttrack85 wrote:Wow!!!! I saw that on his wiki page. How is this not a big deal in the track world???? I am only 26 years old and pretty much wrote myself off since I turned 20. If I lived in Cali or Florida I would probably seriously try to do what some would maybe call impossible.


Why do you need to be in Cali or Florida? He did it living in Canada!



Well Donovan knew a good coach. I don't and I am no longer in school. There a tons of cross county running clubs wheer I live. Practically no where for people out of school to train if they wanted to be sprinters.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby dj » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:11 am

Bruce Kritzler wrote:A guy at work told me he ran (high school or college) track in Nebraska against Mel Pender?


Something's wrong with the telling. Pender never ran high school or collegiate track. Grew up in Georgia before entering the Army.

I suspect your friend was running track in college and actually ran against Pender's contemporary, Charlie Greene, who tied the 100y WR while at Nebraska, 1964-67.

Or, your friend ran Pender in an open race.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Tuariki » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:36 am

dj wrote:
Bruce Kritzler wrote:A guy at work told me he ran (high school or college) track in Nebraska against Mel Pender?


Something's wrong with the telling. Pender never ran high school or collegiate track. Grew up in Georgia before entering the Army.

I suspect your friend was running track in college and actually ran against Pender's contemporary, Charlie Greene, who tied the 100y WR while at Nebraska, 1964-67.

Or, your friend ran Pender in an open race.

That's correct. If Kritzler's friend ran against Mel in Nebraska it would have been when Mel was competing on the All-Army Track team during the 1960s.

Mel got his college degree while in the Army. Interestingly Charlie Greene was transferred to West Point when Pender and I were there. I think it was 1976 when Charlie arrived, about the same time as Mel retired. Charlie was a Captain and the equivalent of the Human Resources Manager for the regular Army personnel at West Point.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby AS » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:23 pm

Aussie sub-10 man Patrick Johnson didn't start competing until 23, and remains oldest man to break 10s for the first time (140 days short of 31 years old). He was still running 10.18 at 37 years of age. He spent some portion of his childhood living on a boat (a fishing trawler)...
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:36 pm

So who here thinks Trackfieldnews very own Fasttrack85 has a shot at gold in London? Lets see should I try to take down Yohan and Bolt or try to tackle Kirani and Lashawn? Anyone know a good coach in the Nyc area???
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby fasttrack85 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:43 pm

No one mentioned Adam Gemili. He was mainly a soccer player and said he didn't really take track seriously until age 17. While that is still a fairly young age he ran 10.05 in just one year of part time training. I think that is impressive.


Off on my quest now to prepare for Rio 2016. :D
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby doug5321 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:05 am

jack foster started running at age 33 ran 2:11 at 41 and 2:20 in the marathon at age 50. http://stevequick.blogspot.com/2010/02/ ... leage.html
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:38 am

doug5321 wrote:jack foster started running at age 33 ran 2:11 at 41 and 2:20 in the marathon at age 50. http://stevequick.blogspot.com/2010/02/ ... leage.html


Already mentioned Foster.
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Re: Most successful track athletes who started late.

Postby Spickard » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:55 pm

Not sure if you are limiting this to track-only athletes, but Donald Thomas learned to high jump in 2006 and was World Champion in 2007. Not too shabby.
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