Sprinting at 35 years – 104 years – Amazing vids!

Befittoday.co.uk and Europeanmarathons.com have been in Torun, Poland, this week for the European Indoor Masters Championships. The event was a true inspiration and a really powerful showcase of the powers of human spirit, and how one, with a steady health and fitness routine, can prolong their involvement in athletics right through their life.

Masters events are for competitors over the age of 35, and there are separate competitions broken down according to age, with five year increments marking each age category: over 35’s being 35 – 39 year olds; over 40’s being 40-44 year olds, and so on. One event in particular really encapsulated the extraordinary Masters ethos of a celebration of an athletes’ powers of longevity. The M90 60m final was contested by Britain’s Charles Eugster, 95, and Poland’s Stanslaw Kowalski, aged 104. These men received a rightful standing ovation as they tore their way up the 60m track with incredible speed, bounce and technique. It was a truly emotional, heart felt moment and a real celebration of the freedom life can bring. Charles broke his own British record, running a time of 14.56 seconds to take the gold medal. Stanslaw finished not far behind, clocking 20.27 seconds.

M90 60m final –

Elsewhere, the W80-85 60m competition also proved a really popular event with the adoring supporters, who passtionately cheered on these brave, determined athletes. This event proved to be one of the closer fought races of the week. In a hard fought contest, Latvia’s Austra Reinberga managed to just keep France’s Claudine Crippa at arm’s length, winning by a metre in a time of 13.13 seconds ahead of Claudine, who ran 13.52 seconds.

W80-85 60m final –

Another contest defined by its fine margins was the M35 60m final. This final had a real sense of anticipation, and as the eight finalists made their way to the starting blocks, there was a tangible buzz of excitement and wonderment in the air. The heats and semi-finals had set things up perfectly for the show piece final. The pre-final favourites, TJ Ossai and Mark Findlay, had run identical times of 7.01 seconds in winning their respective semi-finals. Close rivals, even closer friends, the story of the two personal trainers couldn’t have been scripted much better as they lined up side by side in lanes four and five.

It was TJ who got off to the faster start, breaking from the blocks with characteristic flow and fluidity. The contrast in styles between the two main contenders made for an intriguing battle.TJ’s languid, smooth style, set against Mark’s more bustling, powerful technique. With 10m to go, TJ’s slender lead over the field was under siege from a gutsy Mark. Bearing down on the finish the two dipped for the line clear of the other six competitors. It was oh so tight.

Upon hearing confirmation that he’d won the race in a new Personal Best time of 6.97 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of Mark who ran 7.00, TJ raised his arms aloft and did his own miniature lap of honour. The camaraderie and respect between TJ and Mark at the end, as well as the other six finalists, was a joy to see and really epitomised the sense of shared adventure and empathy athletes often hold for each other, appreciating and respecting the depths their fellow competitors go to bring the best out of themselves.

France’s Imad Rahoui ran superbly for third place in a time of 7.12 seconds. Afterwards TJ expressed his delight at pulling off such an incredible, hard earned, feat: “I’m over the moon. I’m still in shock. Not only did I win, I got a PB, at 39, running the quickest time of my entire life. Top man, Mark Findlay, he gave me a scare. I didn’t expect any less. I knew it was going to be a fight to the line.”

M35 60m final

There was further British success in both the W35 60m final and the M45 60m final. In the former event, Ellena Ruddock produced a strong second 30m to time her run to perfection, edging out Latvia’s Jelena Titova by one hundredth of a second, to win in a clocking of 7.98 seconds. The M45 60m produced the second all-British head for head. In a race that had marked parallels with the M35 final, the two leading British runners broke clear of the pack. Having stolen a march on his countrymen, Mark Dunwell appeared to be heading for victory at the 45m point. But in one of the moments of the championships, Jason Carty, hauled Mark in and glided clear in typically smooth fashion to win through in 7.24 seconds, ahead of Mark who ran 7.29 seconds. Eduard Gonaus of Austria claimed the bronze medal with an excellent time of 7.46 seconds.

W35 60m final –

M45 60m final –

Interview with Jason –

The 60m event also witnessed a number of new records. Along with Charles’ British record, the 60m saw two new world records and one new championship record. In the W55 60m final, France’s Nicole Alexis produced one of the performances of the championships, running a world record 8.01 seconds, winning the race comprehensively ahead of Spain’s Loles Vives and Britain’s Carole Filer, who ran 8.47 seconds and 8.76 seconds respectively. Nicole’s combination of speed, power and technique really enthralled the watching spectators.

W55 60m final –

One of the stand out individual displays of the championships came from Italy’s Mario Longo in the M50 60m event. Mario broke the world record in his semi-final, running 7.10 seconds. He was equally impressive in the final, clocking 7.13 seconds to record an emphatic win ahead of countryman Alfonso De Feo, 7.42 seconds, in second and Britain’s Donald Brown, 7.50 seconds, in third. A championship record was also set in the M80 category, with Sweden’s Lars Wennblom running a rapid 9.50 seconds to claim gold ahead of Italy’s Armando Roca, 9.77 seconds, and Russia’s Anatoly Zorin, 9.78 seconds, who finished second and third respectively.

M50 60m final –

M80 60m final –

The competitive nature of all the races, not to mention the high quality on show, made for spectacular viewing. Whilst the 60m events were taking place, the field events were also in full flow, with exciting contests in the shot put, long jump, triple jump and pole vault. The championships as a whole has also run like clockwork, with fantastic organisation from all those putting the event on. More excitement is set to follow on the track and field over the coming days before the final day of competition this Saturday.

Other races:

W40 60m final –

M40 60m final –

Interview with Joe Appiah, 4th placed finisher in the M40 60m final –

W45 60m final –

W50 60m –

W60 60m final –

M55 60m final –

By Frankie Conway


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