PA/USATF World Masters Athletics Day 4 Roundup

World Masters Athletics Day 4 Roundup

by Bob Burns

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WMA Kevin Morning 100 meters

Kevin Morning, far right, on his way to a M55 bronze medal in the 100m Sprint.

Liz Palmer had the faster start, Joy Upshaw the stronger finish. The end result Saturday was a one-two finish by the Pacific Association standouts at the World Masters Athletics Championships.

Add in a silver medal from Aaron Thigpen and a bronze from Kevin Morning in other age-group finals, and it was a banner evening for PA/USATF sprinters.

In the women’s 50-54 final of the 100 meters, Palmer blasted out of the blocks to an early lead before Upshaw overtook her in the final 30 meters en route to a clear win in 12.95 seconds.

Palmer, a Folsom resident competing in her first WMA Outdoor Championships, won the silver medal in 13.09 with Nicole Alexis of France third in 13.22. The times were hindered by a headwind of 1.5 meters per second.

“I don’t care what the time was,” Upshaw said. “I just concentrated on staying relaxed and not tightening up. It felt very smooth. It’s a great feeling.”

Upshaw won the W45 long jump at the 2007 WMA Outdoor Championships in Italy but was injured two years later in Finland. The Lafayette resident will also compete in the 80-meter hurdles and long jump in Sacramento and should add to her medal cache.

Palmer and Upshaw will renew their rivalry in Saturday’s 80-meter hurdles. Palmer said she has been hindered this summer by tendonitis and has a tough time running two rounds in one day, as was the case with Saturday’s 100-meter semifinals and final.

“It’s the best race I could have put together,” Palmer said. “I could look at is if I had a gold medal in my grasp and slip away, or I could be happy with a silver medal at worlds. I’m pleased.”

Moments before Upshaw’s emotional win, Kevin Morning, a 55-year-old sprinter from Roseville who won a sprint double at the 2001 WMA Championships in Australia, sprinted his way back onto the medal podium.

In Saturday’s M55 100 final, Morning finished third in 12.02 behind U.S. teammates Oscar Peyton (11.89) and Damien Leake (12.01).

“My back was a little tight, but I’m pleased with my performance,” Morning said.

In the M45 100 meters, Thigpen, a Brentwood resident, took what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the first three-fourths of the race. But Italy’s Mauro Graziano sprinted past with a furious rush to win, 11.29 to 11.38.

For the crowd of approximately 2,000 watching the sprint finals, the highlight came in the men’s 50 race. Willie Gault, the former Olympic sprinter and Super Bowl champion with the Chicago Bears, won by more than sixth-tenths of a second in 10.96, close to his M50 world record of 10.88.

Gault’s winning time was faster than any recorded by the winners of the M45, M40 and M35 finals.

While the sprinters commanded most of the attention in Saturday’s evening session, there were several other notable performances by PA/USATF athletes throughout the day.

In the M45 triple jump, Dmitry Piterman of Oakland claimed the gold medal with a winning leap of 45-61⁄2. Piterman’s best effort came in the fifth round.

In other PA/USATF highlights from Saturday’s WMA Championships:

  • Kathy Craft of Santa Cruz won a bronze medal in the W40 pole vault with a clearance of 9-8.
  • Richard Noble of Alameda placed third in the M70 shot put with a best toss of 42-01⁄2.
  • Joan Stratton of Zephyr Cove, Nev., placed fourth in the W55 discus.
  • Michael Ostrom of Walnut Creek finished fourth in the M45 hammer.
  • Hans Schmid from Greenbrae finished fifth in the M70 5,000 meters, won by New Zealand’s Ron Robertson in a world-record time of 18:15.53. Schmid clocked 19:56.35.

Competition resumes Monday following the first of two off days on Sunday. The WMA Championships began July 6 and continue through July 17 at five venues in Sacramento.

For complete results and meet schedule, see