Sunday, 21 June 2015

Older Athletes on Track.

Yesterday was the day of the geriatric athletics competition in Northern Ireland, aka the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Championships. The smell of embrocation hung in a pall over the Mary Peters Track. Bandages and tape were much in evidence and, "puffers," were being used with considerable alacrity.

This event is a relatively new addition to the athletics calendar. Until eleven or twelve years ago the mature athlete in Northern Ireland was restricted to a 1500m at the senior championships if he, (not she), wanted what was then called a, "veterans race." The age division between senior and veteran male athlete was forty. Since then it has been reduced to thirty five and the term veteran has been replaced by the term master just in case we get mixed up with American ex-service personnel.

As is usual a lot of the age categories did not attract great numbers. There seems to be a reluctance on the part of many individuals to partake in track athletics even though they are quite happy to turn out at innumerable road races and even cross country events. Maybe it is because they can be viewed by the spectators throughout the race. Tactical mistakes can't be hidden. Competitive naievity, lack of fitness and failure to react are under the analytical microscope. With masters athletics you then have the additional age related dissection of performance. Comments about how old and grey people have become and how so and so has put a lot of weight on. Yes I suppose this might put some people off competing on the track.


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