Day 4 – World Masters Championships are special

There are many unique facets of World Masters Championships that are difficult to convey to those who have not attended and make the experience very special. The worldwide camaraderie within Masters Athletics is great so phenomenal things happen when we come together. Three of the photographers, Torrey EnoksenDoug Shaggy Smith and Alex Rotas, who provide photographs for these posts had experiences today that demonstrate some of the special aspects.

Alex muses on her Facebook page (edited): I was walking back from the main stadium just now and crossing the footbridge that links one bit of town with another. I passed an athlete wearing a gloriously brightly coloured Peruvian T-shirt. “Hola Peru!” I said, and he smiled back. I’d barely had time to reflect on how special it is to find yourself in a city where you are temporarily part of a community of potential friends you can always say hello to, when I passed a familiar face. It was Barry Ferguson, a superb British #mastersathlete (a hurdler) I’ve photographed over the years since he was in the 70+ age group. He’s now in the 80+.

We stopped for a catch up. I told him about my Peruvian ‘hola’ and how wonderful I felt it was to be in a community again after the dreadful isolation of the last two years.

He had a similar story to tell. He’d been with a fellow Brit of not dissimilar age when they both found themselves in awe of the tattoos sported by a young Brazilian female athlete. Noticing their attention, she’d turned to them, he told me smiling, and said “Hello boys!”. It made their day. A trusted community is a safe community, and he felt she’d seen them as the friends and fellow athletes they were. And as I said in a previous post, as an athlete, you remain a ‘lad’ or a boy whatever your age. Of course he was smiling.

Photo: Alex Rotas

Hervanta was where men 55 and younger vied for 5000m medals. Mark Husted, M35, USA, Miguel del Pozo, M40, ESP, Kojo Kyereme, M45, GBR, Davide Figueiredo, M50, POR, and Joaquim Figueiredo, M55, POR, earned wins in their respective divisions.

The women’s 55+ heptathlon finished also at Hervanta. The toughest competition in the women’s heptathlon was in W55 where Barbara Gähling, GER, the current W50 WMA record holder, outran Petra Bajeat, FRA, 2018 WMA Best Athlete Runner-up, by over 15 seconds in the 800m to snatch the top podium spot. Angela Müller, W60, GER, used strong long jump and javelin performances to best current WMA recordholder, Maria Rosa Escribano Checa, ESP. Tami Graf, W85, USA, became the oldest women’s heptathlete and set a new WMA record.

Geraldine Finegan, W55, IRL, competing in the heptathlon hurdles yesterday. Photo: Alex Rotas

Men’s long jump for 60+ athletes at Ratina. Adrian Neagu, ROU, set the WMA M65 record in 2018 so it is impressive that his winning jump is only 10cm short of his record. The closest contest of the day had Raimo Kietäväinen, M90, FIN, edged New Zealander, Jim Blair by 2cm. Wiesław Musiał, M60, POL, jumped 5.30m in the second round but Brian Hankerson, USA, answered in the third round with 5.37 to capture the gold.

Brian and Wiesław joined by Wai Ling Kung, HKG for the medal ceremony.

Ratina was also where fans could see battles in shot put between countrywomen. Niina Kelo, W40, FIN, had the first round lead before fellow Finn, Tanja Komulainen threw the winning distance in the second round. W50 was a close contest where Carmen Hildebrandt edged German compatriot, Tatjana Schilling, by 2cm with her 11.95m second round throw. Maria Sløk Hansen, W35, DEN, and Nadine Kant, W45, GER, won the other contests.

M55 and younger decathlon finished at Ratina today. Christian Hoser, AUS, 7779, Christopher Kurt Schiefermayer, AUS, 7640 and Thomas Stewens, GER, 7212, all M55, had the highest scores of the day. Thomas medaled in spite of only scoring in nine events. Simo Piispa, M45, FIN, also scored over 7000pts.

Bert Van Opstal, M55, BEL, competes in day 1 decathlon

M55+ weight throw was contested today. Current WMA recordholders Lauri Helle, M95, FIN, and Arild Busterud, M70, NOR, won their respective divisions. The most competitive division was M50 where Mariusz Walczak, POL, 22.84m, Tero Mäkelä, FIN, 20.64m, Mattias Borrman, SWE, 20.54m, Pavel Penáz, CZE, 20.25m and Adrian Carlos Marzo, ARG, 20.12m all threw farther than the next best throw, Rimvydas Medisauskas, M60, LTU, 20.07m.

Jukka Perälä, M55, FIN, surprised everyone after the competition by presenting M55 World Champion, Gintautas Misevičius, LTU a special trophy he made. Torrey Enoksen, NOR, was also in this competition, took this photograph and shared the story.
Photographers blend in at sporting events so you almost do not know they are there, right Shaggy?

Paula Everdell-Brown, one of the amazing officials and volunteers for whom we should deeply thank, said it so well on Facebook: “The thing I love most about these World Masters Championship is they make the world a better and kinder place. Though they are from different countries, backgrounds, ages, and speak different languages, by the end of this championship bonds across borders will be formed through all these new friendships.”