Our Council has selected sixteen different athletes for our annual Best Athlete awards and recognized dozens more athletes in event categories between 2010 and 2019. Reminiscing about those athletes and our championships has been a refreshing break from COVID. Congratulations to all Masters Athletes for all your accomplishments last decade!

Council agreed that nominees for this honor must have broken a WMA record and won a WMA Championship in at least two age groups in the decade. Our nominating panel researched athletes meeting the criteria and nominated six females and six males:

Female: Heather Carr, W71, Australia; Karla Del Grande, W67, Canada; Mihaela Loghin, W68, Romania; Marianne Maier, W78, Austria; Irene Obera, W87, United States; Caroline Powell, W67, Great Britain.

Male: Charles Allie, M73, United States; Arild Busterud, M73, Norway; Dr. Rolf Geese, M77, Germany; Robert Lida, M84, United States; Ian Richards, M72, Great Britain; Yoshiyuki Shimizu, M92, Brazil.

On behalf of WMA Council, it is my honor to introduce Arlid Busterud and Karla Del Grande as WMA Athletes of the Decade. A special congratulations to Mrs. Del Grande, Mr. Busterud and the other nominees!

Our thanks to all the photographers who support our sport. A special thank you to  Rob JeromeGraeme DahlAlex RotasDoug Smith and Torrey Enoksen for providing the fabulous photos for this announcement.

Margit Jungmann, WMA President

Athlete of the Decade Nominees

Karla and Arild epitomized consistency and excellence during the last decade. While they were never selected as WMA Best Athlete, they were frequently in contention. Both gave us many memorable moments! Was anyone attending the 2019 WMACI in Toruń not on the edge of their seats watching Karla and Caroline Powell battle it out in the W65 400m final after significantly lowering the record in the semis? An epic competition where Karla further lowered the record while winning. Who wasn’t amazed when Arild threw almost a meter farther than the weight record set by 3 time Olympian, Ed Burke, at the 2018 WMAC in Málaga? The other nominees clearly demonstrated excellence too. Did you know that Charles Allie, two time WMA Best Athlete, ran 400m over two seconds faster at the 2018 WMAC in Málaga than the next fastest M70 all-time, Guido Müller, GER, the only 3 time WMA Best Athlete? We could keep going about the many accomplishments! It is with great honor we present the WMA Athletes of the Decade nominees.

Male Athlete of the Decade – Arild Busterud, M73, Norway

Please tell us about your family (spouse, children, grandchildren), where you live, what you do / did for a living.

I am married and have 2 daughters en 4 grandchildren at age 7, 14, 17 and 20 years old. My oldest grandson Sebastian trains sometime hammer with me, but he dos not compete. I am a farmer, but retired now. My oldest daughter has taken over the farm, but I still work on the farm every day! I live in Løten a small village close to Hamar and Lillehammer, who hosted the winter Olympics in 1994. We have a lot of snow in winter time.

What else would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

My father was one one of the best ski jumpers in world, number 6 in World championship. So my sport career started with competing in ski jumping, and in age of 13-15 year-class was I the best in Norway and also in combined ski jumping and cross country skiing. I did competition in this until I was 20 years old. I trained ski in winter and Athletics in summertime. But from age 20 only Athletics. I competed in the Norwegian Athletic team and in 1974 I had the Norwegian record in Hammer 67, 84 m, and my best result in shot put was 18, 07 m.

What were the accomplishments between 2010 and 2019 you think are most noteworthy and why?

I have competed in 12 WMA and about the same in EMAC, and have won 28 gold medals all togehter in WMA and 27 gold medals in EMAC competitions.

What was your favorite WMA Championship between 2010 and 2019?

WMA in Brazil in 2013 was special, I succeed to take WMA record in Weight pentathlon M 65, with 5255 p. I had tried to beat this record before. But in Porto Alegre I had full score in all 5 event, despite of a horrible weather with rain and thunderstorm throughout competition day! I beat the old record with 200 p.

Do you coach? If so, please tell me a little about those you coach(ed).

I coach throwers in my Club and in the regional team from 1975 and still going on. At the moment I train a hammer thrower at age 18, he is best in Norway in his age-class.

Female Athlete of the Decade – Karla Del Grande, W67, Canada

Please tell us about your family (spouse, children, grandchildren), where you live, what you do / did for a living.

I’m supported by my very patient husband Al. He calls himself bag carrier, travel agent, psychiatrist, therapist, head cook, and is so much more. He also has supported me by giving time and energy over the years with Ontario Masters Athletics and at our local school track and cross-country meets in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have one daughter and one stepson, who is father of our active future runner grandson. Two knowledgeable men, Bruce Mitchell and Jamal Miller, have coached me with great dedication over the years.
Outside of track, I had a varied teaching career, in ESL, computer, physical education, literacy, and as a teacher-librarian.

What else would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

I’m passionate about our sport, and feel that it offers something to anyone for competition or recreation, can be lifelong and life-changing, and includes events for everyone – track, field, cross-country, race walking, ultras, para, individual or relays. I especially value the world-wide friendships that we have with like-minded people. My success has given me opportunities to share my passion in podcasts, magazine articles, and speaking engagements. I think it’s important to find ways to give back and show appreciation for all the volunteers (board members, officials, organizers, etc.) that enable me to compete, so I have also officiated, volunteered at events, served as a board member, and coached the next generation.

What were the accomplishments between 2010 and 2019 you think are most noteworthy and why?

I am very proud to have held world records in 2 age categories, and 5 events, indoors and outdoors in this decade showing longevity and versatility. In 2018, I was the first woman age 65 or over to run under 14 seconds (13.91) in the 100 metres. In spite of the challenges in training and competing in 2020, I came closer than any other woman to running my age in the 400 metres — 68 seconds at age 67. And of course, I’m pleased with the recognition from WMA in 2018 and 2019 for Female Sprint Athlete of the Year, and in 2019 as Runner-up Overall Female.
I try to get the best out of myself, but show others what is possible, so women after me can look at any records as a challenge and work as hard or harder as I did, just as I’ve been inspired by the women ahead of me.

What was your favorite WMA Championship between 2010 and 2019?

All of the WMA Championships (5 indoor, 7 outdoor) that I’ve attended since 2003 are memorable. The friendships created over the years, with athletes and officials, are special, so it was awesome to be competing in Torun in 2019 with some of the same women that I first met in 2003 in Puerto Rico. Daegu stands out as such a different cultural experience for me in a very sports minded welcoming city. Torun was memorable for allowing my coach, family and friends to watch races from home, and was a very well organized meet in wonderful facilities.

Do you coach? If so, please tell me a little about those you coach(ed).

I’ve coached many elementary students that I also taught. Two especially stand out. One eventually went on to represent Canada at world junior events, and as a special education student, inspired other young athletes to find their own special passion and ability in themselves. Another student changed from an overweight inactive boy to considering himself an athlete, and got his family to become more active as well.

Charles Allie, M73, United States

Charles and his wife, Jackie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June 2020. They have one son (Charles Jr.) and one daughter (Angela)–both in their 40’s. Angela is engaged and has two sons—Victor who is about to be 3 years old and Santiago who is 4 months old. Charles and his family all reside in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a retired middle school industrial arts teacher and coach with Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Charles is one of a select few who have earned WMA Best Athlete honors twice. He participated in 2010 WMACI in Kamloops2011 WMAC in Sacramento2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth2017 WMACI in Daegu2018 WMAC in Málaga and 2019 WMACI in Toruń. Charles set six individual WMA records during the decade which still stand today.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

I have been a Masters athlete for 33 years and never imagined that my greatest accomplishments could come after the age of 60. I’ve received more accolades in this past decade than in my entire athletic career. Thankfully, my body has kept up with my ambition. I am proud to represent what’s possible when the mind, body and heart work together to support one goal–not just winning and breaking records, but giving my personal best. My love for track and fellowship with the track community keeps me going. I am humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from my fellow teammates, Masters athletes, and social media followers. My wife gets to communicate with them often!

Throughout my 30 plus years of competing in Masters Track & Field, I have been inspired by some great Masters athletes: Bill Collins, Stan Whitley and the late great Bob Lida to name a few. They have showcased the competitive spirit, knowledge and wisdom to be great athletes. More than that, they are simply great human beings. I am so thankful for them. Hopefully, I can do the same.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to all of the WMA Nominees. Continue to be your best, stay healthy and safe!

During this past decade, I have received more than my share of medals. The amount of awards and recognitions I have received has been overwhelming! I say this often: I am so thankful to all of my fellow teammates, masters athletes, social media followers.

Heather Carr, W71, Australia

Heather and her husband, Bill, a sprinter, enjoy competing together. Between her husband, children, Olivia 44, Lachlan 42, Kennedia 37 (Ewan died at 27), her grandchildren are Chelsea 19, Amelia 17, Owen 15, Angus 13, Skye 13, Tate 6 and Jack 3, other family and many, many friends, she has been well supported and further motivated to reach her potential. This support has increased her self confidence and self worth. Heather is a retired kindergarten teacher.

She participated in 2010 WMACI in Kamloops2011 WMAC in Sacramento2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth2017 WMACI in Daegu and 2019 WMACI in Toruń and naturally, had great difficulty answering which was her favorite. “It’s like asking which is your favourite child! All the Championships have had their unique and endearing qualities, so how to pick the best?” Travelling around the world was special for her. A novelty she enjoyed was competing at the indoor championships since they do not have in Australia.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

Relaxing with a good book, watching movies and above all, enjoying good company, good coffee, and great times with sincere and close friends is really important to me. Many of my friends belong to the athletics clubs I belong to including the Victorian Race Walking Club [of which I am a life member], Australian Masters Athletics, Victorian Masters Athletics, my local venue being Frankston and Mornington Peninsula Masters. With Athletics Victoria the club I belong to is Glenhuntly, which has produced superb athletes over the years including Olympians and Commonwealth Games athletes.

I love Saturday morning Parkrun, and of course the conviviality that goes hand in hand with this amazing event. Again, great friends and great company! I retired from triathlons this year, after spending many seasons competing successfully.

Travelling is also an amazing experience – learning and understanding other cultures and countries has developed an appreciation of how very fortunate and lucky we are to have been able to experience and engage in opportunities that open my eyes to the world.

My current coach is Jim Leppik, [photographer], well renowned in race walking circles worldwide. We enjoy a strong relationship based on respect and knowledge and hard work! Previously I was coached by Simon Baker, a champion Commonwealth Games race walker. Again, a coach with a wealth of expertise. Tim Erickson, again well known and well respected in the race walking world family has had a positive and unequivocal influence on my association with race walking.

Dr. Rolf Geese, M77, Germany

Rolf participated in 2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon and 2019 WMACI in Toruń. He set three individual WMA records during that time and still holds one. Two of the records set were at the WMACI in Budapest coming back after not competing between 2010 and 2013 due to injuries.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

My spouse and I studied in Mainz and have lived in Göttingen (a city in the middle of Germany, with a world-renowned university) for 48 years. We have three children (two boys + one girl) and four grandchildren.

My wife was a teacher at a high school, I worked as a sports scientist at the University of Göttingen from 1973- 2009. At the University of Frankfurt/M. I received my PhD in the field of exercise and training science. My work at the university included theory courses and research as well as sports practice in athletics, apparatus gymnastics and alpine skiing. In 1970, after my studies, I took up an offer from the Spanish Athletics Federation to prepare track and field athletes in Barcelona for the 1972 OS in Munich. Through my scientific activities, I supervised the German top decathletes from 1974 – 1996 regarding the optimization of movement techniques.
From 1976 on I advised several clubs of the 1st German Soccer League (HSV- Hamburger Sportverein, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg) with the aim to improve the physical abilities of the players and in injury prevention. VfL Wolfsburg became German champion twice during this time.

For almost 2 decades, I was only involved in athletics to a very limited extent. When our oldest son challenged me to a race at the age of 13 and finished well ahead of me, I started to train systematically again and also worked as a coach. In 1993 I started to train regularly again. In 1995 I participated in my first world championship in M50, which took place in Buffalo (USA). Here I won the Decathlon with a world record. From 1995 to 2019, I was able to win 16 WMA titles and set 9 world records (6 WR in the Decathlon, 2 WR in the Hurdle Sprint and 2 WR in the Pentathlon).
My favorite WMA championship between 2010 and 2019 was the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Budapest. Here I won in M70 in pentathlon and hurdles sprint both with world record.

My training:
Scope: 3 x per week each 2 hrs in the stadium (unfortunately there is no hall) + 2 x per week each 1/2 hr strength training (in the basement of my house).
In the winter months I cannot train high jump or pole vault. The training of the throwing disciplines (javelin, shot, discus) is only possible to a very limited extent.

Robert Lida, M84, United States

Sadly, Bob passed in 2020. He was another one of the few athletes to receive WMA Best Athlete twice which meant a great deal to him. On earning his second award, he said ”It certainly validates all the time and effort one puts into our sport. I’m particularly pleased to be one of the five US athletes who have won the award, and the only one to win it twice.”

Some say Bob has never grown up so we will say Bob spent his early years in Mission, Kansas and went to the University of Kansas, graduating in 1959. All his professional life was spent in marketing & advertising including working for Cessna Aircraft Company and his own advertising agency for 30 years. Now Bob has a small company that removes tattoos plus he coaches sprinters at a local high school, has winter workouts for them and coach cross country in the fall. Track & Field is his major hobby as it consumes most of his time – it shows in the results!

Bob participated in 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2015 WMAC in Lyon2017 WMACI in Daegu2018 WMAC in Málaga and 2019 WMACI in Toruń. He still holds five records set in the decade.

Mihaela Loghin, W68, Romania

Mihaela competed in shot put at the 1984 Olympics taking silver losing gold by one centimeter. She taught physical education at a military school.

She participated in 2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä 2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon and 2019 WMACI in Toruń winning gold in three of them. She set six records during the decade and still holds five!

Marianne Maier, W78, Austria

Marianne was the oldest child and learned to take responsibility early in her life. She has been married for over 50 years and has a son and two grandchildren.

She participated in 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth and 2018 WMAC in Málaga where she won nineteen gold, including four in heptathlon, two silver and one bronze. Three of the six individual event WMA records she set during the decade still stand.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

I have been an active member of TS Höchst for about40 years. Initially as an athlete later also as a coach of the students. Trained 10 years also the youth athletes in my hometown St.Margrethen. Thishe job filled me with joy between my training. When my coach got sick, I stepped into his footsteps. He died in 2003, then took over as sectionof the LA of TS Höchst. This office I still supervise today. Lead the indoor training of the Masters in the LA Halle in Dornbirn in winter.

Since the death of my coach, I’ve been like that. I’m concerned with the profession of athletics especially in old age. Organize the Vorarlberg halls MS in Dornbirn. Even smaller competitions in Höchst.

Travelling to the competitions is a lot of fun for me. I am also interested in the reunion of the athletes and the cultures of the respective countries.

Irene Obera, W87, United States

Irene did not run track until a year after she graduated from Chico State in Northern California in 1957. Recall that in those pre-Title IX days, there were few athletic scholarships for outstanding women in college. Irene quickly excelled in the sprints, and she qualified for both the 1960 and 1968 Olympic Trials, competing against such legends as Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus. (She was injured at the time of the 1964 Trials.)

Irene likes to tell the story of how a gracious Wilma Rudolph once approached her after a race and offered to show her how to “run the curve” in the 200m. Irene was taken aback by this show of sportsmanship, and expressed her surprise that a rival would try to help her improve. Came Wilma’s reply: “Well, you still have to work hard to beat me!” Irene laughs now when she concedes that she never did beat Rudolph at any distance.

After her competitive career ended, Irene continued to run after work as a high school teacher in Berkeley. When the Masters track movement began in the mid-70s, Irene flourished. She attended the first World Masters Championships in Toronto in 1975, winning two bronze medals in the 100 and 400 meters, the 200 not being offered at the time. It wasn’t until 2014 when at 80, she opted to expand her repertoire to the hurdles, jumps, throws and combined events. Irene has won a total of sixty-five outdoor and eight indoor world championship medals (forty-nine of them gold, seventy-three in total) in eleven different events. She has broken world records in ten different individual events.

Irene participated in 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth and 2019 WMACI in Toruń. She was chosen WMA Best Female Athlete in 2016, after winning ten medals at the WMAC in Perth, eight of them gold. Perth was the most memorable of her recent world championships because of the ten events she challenged herself with there. In the end, she won ten medals there, eight of them gold, and broke three individual world records, as well as helped to establish a new world record in the long relay. Perth also saw two achievements that Irene is especially proud of: she broke the 19 second barrier in the 80m hurdles twice, and also became the first woman to score over 6,000 points in the heptathlon, the first time she had ever participated in the grueling event.

Irene is a practicing Roman Catholic. Besides track, she loves tennis and is involved in a bowling league year round. She also is a big fan of women’s basketball and regularly attends Stanford home games. Two years ago, Irene lost her decades-long partner, Arlene. She believes the key to her longevity is staying injury free by taking prolonged breaks in between her competitive seasons.

Caroline Powell, W67, Great Britain

Caroline participated in 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth2017 WMACI in Daegu2018 WMAC in Málaga and 2019 WMACI in Toruń earning many medals. She is recognized for her 400m accomplishments in which she set 4 WMA records in the decade and still holds 3 of them.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

I am age 67, a born and bred Bristol track athlete and life member of Bristol & West Athletics Club. I have and still represent Great Britain in the World Masters Athletics Championships. I have an winning track record over the last 10 years in both local and international competitions from 60m to 400m and have held World Indoor and Outdoor 400m and 200m records.

My coach is Rob Ellchuk previously at the University of Bath, now relocated back home to Canada. I continue to train there under his guidance, Covid restrictions permitted. I have 4 grown-up children and I still live in the family home in the Chew Valley, South of Bristol, still working self-employed in the AV Industry, albeit part time now.

I’ve enjoyed all my Overseas competitions as I’ve made many like-minded friends both inside and outside the UK, but I find the atmosphere of the indoor competitions the most exciting.

Ian Richards, M72, Great Britain

Ian has been married to Barbara for 25 years. His first wife died unexpectedly before she was 40. He has two children, two step-children and four grandchildren with another on the way. He currently retired from finance living in Worthington, England.

Most recently, Ian was recognized in 2019 by British Masters AthleticsEuropean Masters Athletics and WMA as Race Walker of the year plus British and European Masters Athlete of the Year and Runner up World Masters Athlete of the Year, second only to the great Earl Fee.

Ian participated in 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2012 WMACI in Jyväskylä2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2014 WMACI in Budapest2015 WMAC in Lyon2016 WMAC in Perth2017 WMACI in Daegu2018 WMAC in Málaga and 2019 WMACI in Toruń. He still holds all five of the WMA records he set within the decade.

What would you like people reading the announcement to know about you?

Many assume that because I am an Olympian I must have an innate ability to perform at the level I now do but that ignores my history. I left school at age 18 and the only sporting success I could claim was 3rd place in a wheelbarrow race at age 8. I discovered race walking by chance when I was 21, joined a club and through hard work and continuous improvement got selected 9 years later to represent Great Britain for the first time in the European championships 50 km walk. In 1980 I finished 11th in the 50km walk in the Moscow Olympics. I retired 2 years later, remained active but did no competitive sport. I started again when I was 60. Initially it was to finish a 100 miles walking race in under 24 hours and to compete in the Marathon des Sables, one of the toughest races in the world. A marathon a day for a week with a double marathon on one day across the Sahara desert carrying all the food and equipment needed for the duration of the race. I finished both and went on to start race walking in masters events. I am loving it and have the same strong desire to give it my all to improve and be the best that I can be. Over the last 10 years I have competed in 50 World and European championships, indoors and outdoors. I have been on the podium 45 times, won 9 world championships, 7 Europeans and set 4 world records ranging from 3000m to 30 Kms. I am getting so much out of the sport, and consistent with the Olympic ethos, I believe I need to put something back. I regularly give talks to older groups about managing the ageing process and am Vice Chairman and Race Walking Secretary of the British Masters Athletic Federation. I regularly act as a Team Manager at the International Championships and serve on 2 other race walking committees within the sport. I started a Sports and Exercise Degree last September so that I can find more ways to improve and also so that I can more authoritively challenge some of the thinking about how older masters should train. A lot of it is not consistent with what I do.

Yoshiyuki Shimizu, M92, Brazil

Yoshiyuki is the oldest nominee but is still competing! He ranked #1 in the world in 2019 in M90 100m, 200m, Long Jump and Triple Jump plus #2 in Long Jump. His M90 best marks, as well as others through his long Masters Athletics history, in those events are among the best all time. Yoshiyuki earned several medals at 2011 WMAC in Sacramento2013 WMAC in Porto Alegre2015 WMAC in Lyon and 2018 WMAC in Málaga.

Over the decade, Yoshiyuki set five WMA records with one still standing today. He has many World #1 Rankings through the decade and all of his performances during that period are Top 5 Ranked.