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Talented Crouch Enders 1 was not meant to be taken entirely seriously - more sort of Keystone Kriminals.

Try and guess, from my broadly signposted clues, the tone of this entry.

Clue number 1 - the subject - me. Greying, wrinkling, sliding down the wrong side of the slippery geriatric slope. Any talent this silly old bugger may ever have had is clearly in decay. And yet there's something I feel proud of and am willing to put on public display.

Clue number 2 - the talent - a willingness to participate in athletics matches. "What at your age?" I hear you ask, and when I say "participate" I'm afraid that is as much as I mean. While I have participated in quite a number of athletics matches for London Heathside Athletics Club, I've actually been competitive in very few. You see there are young men taking part, and they run so fast!  The league my team belongs to is the Southern Men's League Division 2 North. Its a regional division within a regional division. A few blokes from round here. But we are in Division 2 this season, up from Division 3 last season. Perhaps, though, only because so many teams have defected to a new mixed, men's and women's, league. Which does sound like more fun, even to an old bloke like me.

Clue number 3 - my ambition - I want to be the British 100 metres champion in my age group. I think the way to do it is to avoid serious injury until I'm over 85. My inspiration is Sylvester Stein. I read about him in a free newspaper I picked up while jogging to St Pancras one day. A few weeks later I beat him over 100 metres in an open meeting at Parliament Hill, but he did give me a 20 year start. If I can keep going long enough maybe there won't be too much competition at the championships and I'll stand a realistic chance of winning. And at just over two decades to go there's not too much urgency in my training plan.

Clue number 4 - my achievements. I am currently the British bronze medallist in the 60 - 65 age group in the indoor pentathlon. This is no idle boast - see here for proof. And I was bronze medallist last year, and silver medallist in the decathlon in 2009. I guess the thing that surprises most of you is that there is any competition at all between 60, 70 and 80 year olds. I was a bit surprised when I found out. It's a bit like a Saga outing for athletes. We all take it very seriously, with our spikes and our compression shorts and our zimmer frames. As our event approaches we warm up carefully, until we are as full of energy as coiled (if slightly rusty) springs and prowl to the start where we pace up and down like caged, um, tortoises, waiting for the adrenalin surge as the starter's gun startles us out of the blocks?

Participation par excellence came in a league match at Cambridge last season to which three of us turned up. A match consists of 19 events and the three of us covered them all, except the high hurdles (we were all either too creaky or too portly or both to clear the height) and the relays (though we would have done if one of us had been allowed to run twice.) Given that the match was held at Cambridge and my team mate Tony and I both took first in the steeplechase (not a popular event) I submitted a report to the local paper under the heading "Double First at Cambridge" but they did not print it. You can read it here.

There are perhaps two things I'd like you take seriously. 1) Participation in athletics - I came back to it in 2008 after a 35 year break, and as I hope I've demonstrated, participating is quite a lot of fun. London Heathside is a local club and much of its activity is based in Finsbury Park, which is wonderfully convenient. 2) The Finsbury Parkrun - marshalled by volunteers and discreetly bankrolled by big business it takes place every Saturday at 9 a.m. - its free and its fun and it keeps me fit.

 

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Tags: athletics

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