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Masters Track & Field
Chair Report - May 2006

George Mathews

March Madness

Many athletic fans are consumed with college basketball during the month of March. I must admit that normally I am, too. This year was an exception. I was totally immersed in masters track and field for more than half of the month, and that doesnt include practices.  Of course, I am referring to the two biggest masters championship meets going on in competition with the NCAA  college basketball championships.

First was the 2nd WMA World Indoor Championships in Linz, Austria. In order for me to participate in my events I had to start traveling on Saturday, March 11, mainly because of frequent flier flight availability, to get to Linz for the shot put competition starting on Wednesday morning, March 15, at 8:30 a.m.

As those of us who have been to these international meets before know, you must be there at least the day before competition to do your packet pick-up, declaration, and general orientation of the logistics of the venue. This was the beginning of my competitions, which would end on Sunday, the 19th.

Getting Specific

Now to the madness, in particular. Some might perceive this whole agenda that I spell out to be madness.
Austria at that time of year is a winter wonderland. One might ask why anyone would dare compete in the hammer throw during a snow storm. I guess its because its a competition and some of us, or  even a lot of us, are competition junkies. There were over one thousand throwers in this meet. The discus and javelin throwers had a heated field. The hammer and weight throwers had a snow field.  What a challenge.

To make things interesting, my hammer competition was moved from noon to 5:15 p.m. It gets dark around 6:00 p.m. in that part of the world. To make things more interesting, we threw out of a poor discus cage. I have never seen hammers going in so many different places other than the sector.

Unsafe Conditions

This was very unsafe, and I hope that no world championships, or any other meet or practice, is ever contested in this poor a cage again. As a matter of fact, I am told that these winter throws will not be world indoor championship events in the future, but there still will be winter throws in conjunction with the meet.

If it wasnt for these throws, the meet probably couldnt make money.

The weight throw was a fun challenge as well. My competition was held on the first sunny day since I had been there. Sunday! The problem was the snow started to melt and flood the circle as we threw. So much for that competition.

I am told that next time the weight throw should be held indoors. The good news for shot putters was that it was held indoors.
All this being said, I must admit that the meet was well done overall and had a very nice slower pace compared to the first indoor championships in Sindelfingen, Germany. Not to say that was a bad meet. It was a good meet as well.

These international competitions teach us to have patience, and give us the opportunity to understand and embrace cultures and friendships from all over the world. Everyone should be lucky enough to participate.

On to Boston

On the way home, I stopped in Boston for another seven days. As usual, this was a wonderful national indoor championships for most competitors. Not perfect by any means.  Much effort was expended by many people to provide the best experience possible. Many records and outstanding performances were recorded in both meets.

We had an unfortunate situation in Boston, when an athlete at her first National Championships didnt declare for her race and, therefore, couldnt race.

I wrote about this after San Sebastian, and here it happens again in our own National Championships which isnt as complicated as the Worlds. The declaration process was explained on both websites and in the booklet available at the meet. That being said, we need to do whatever we can to avoid this in the future.

Positive Outcome

The result of this sad situation was that the person who had the bad experience found out the process and started informing people as they registered of the need to declare and report to the clerk again 15 minutes before the start of their race. She has volunteered to be our athlete advocate on this problem at the Outdoor Championships so this doesnt happen to anyone else.

Congratulations to this person who just didnt complain about a situation, but volunteered to be part of the solution to the problem.

Another problem we are working on concerns the finals for foreign athletes in our championships. Our rules say that a foreign athlete cannot displace the top six U.S. athletes in a final. That is a problem for foreign athletes when we run on a six-lane track.

The Games Committee made the decision to award duplicate medals based on time for the foreign athletes who were displaced by U.S. citizens in the finals. Their place was determined by their time in the previous heat.

I apologize to the foreign athletes who were not happy with running in the finals in an event because of our rules.

We are submitting rule modifications for this years rule changes to either change the number of U.S. citizens to five in indoor meets or run those problem events as timed finals.

Thanks to Jim Flanik, our new Games Committee Chair, and his team of Carroll DeWeese, Becky Sisley, and Dick Hotchkiss for a fantastic job.

Most throwers enjoyed throwing the 56 lb. weight indoors for the first time with an indoor weight.

March was Mad, but I, for one, am very happy with March. I hope others were as well.
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