After a remarkable masters track and field season that included three world championship titles and a total of five world records, sprinter Robert Lida (M75, Wichita, Kan.) will be the men’s recipient of the 2012 Best Masters of the World award, which will be presented at the IAAF Century Gala November 23-24 in Barcelona, Spain.
The award is given out annually by World Masters Athletics (WMA) and has previously included such legendary American names as Bill Collins and Phil Raschker. This is the first time Lida has won the award.
Lida, who will turn 76 in November, had a stellar indoor season where he established age-group world records in the 60m (8.56), 200m (27.64) and 400m (1:03.90) along with winning gold medals in each event at the World Masters Indoor Championships in Jyvaskyla, Finland. His outdoor season was equally as impressive establishing world records in both the 100m (13.49) and 200m (27.73) and an American record in the 400m (1:05.08) all at the USA Outdoor Masters Track & Field Championships in August in Lisle, IL.
“This is the last thing in the world I was expecting. I was stunned,” Lida said of the honor. “This is an award that is given by the WMA and held at the ceremony for the IAAF. I understand they have invited a number of older athletes and all the winners from the Olympic Games. It’s a great year to be a part of it.”
The ceremony will be held as part of IAAF Century Gala, which is helping to celebrate 100 years of the IAAF being in existence. Scheduled to also be in attendance are National Track & Field Hall of Fame members Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Edwin Moses, Dick Fosbury and Dan O’Brien, among others.
While it comes as a tremendous honor for Lida, competing in masters track and field is about more than winning awards for the Kansas resident.
“To me with winning awards and medals, there comes a point when it’s not about that anymore,” he said. “I am truly trying to break the age-grade curve. There will be a day when I get out and I look down at the stopwatch and it slows down. I think I can go until I am 80, but you never know what is going to happen to you.”