The shot heard around the nation
August 13, 2008
Whittell High School track coach Bill Harvey came away from the 2008 USATF National Masters Championships with his first national championship in the shot put.
Harvey, 62, won the 60-64 age group at the national meet in Spokane, Wash. with a heave of 13.67 meters. In Friday’s shot put competition, Harvey’s first toss was sufficient to garner the gold. On Saturday, he added a silver medal in the discus with a top effort of 40.88 meters.
“I actually had more fun with the discus because I had no expectation of medaling,” Harvey said. “I felt that I should win the shot this time, so there was an element of self-inflicted pressure. I was not ranked in the top five going into the discus, but I seemed to handle a disadvantageous wind better than all but one of the others.”
Harvey resumed his competitive career at age 60, seven years after retiring from 20 years as the track coach at Occidental College in Los Angeles. While in his words he has always been “exercise driven,” he had not thrown competitively for over two decades.
“I have a list of things I try to experience on a daily, weekly or fairly frequent basis,” he said. “One of them is beauty, a fairly easy quest at Lake Tahoe on a daily basis. Vigor, which I believe has an element of adrenaline attached, is not always easy to find. Masters’ track and field has given me an opportunity to challenge myself in a competitive environment.”
Last year, Harvey participated in his first World Championship in Riccione, Italy, finishing as the top American in shot put behind “a Czech and three Germans,” as he puts it. His best shot was 13.52 meters.
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Harvey credits his involvement with Whittell High School students as a catalyst for his own participation.
“When I observe the enthusiasm and hard work they put into preparing for the joy of competing at the highest level possible, it inspires me to try to meet their commitment with my own,” Harvey said. “I invest serious time and effort into providing them with the best possible opportunities to grow and excel. But I always come away with far more from them than I give them.”
He returned to action Thursday at the All Comers Meet at South Tahoe Middle School.
“A great way to spend Thursday evenings in the summer,” he said. “It is fun to watch relays competing with mom, dad and the kids from one family comprising the team. Watching Anthony Davis and South Lake Tahoe putting on these meets reminds me of cutting a track into the grass when I was eight and inviting the neighborhood over for a meet.”
You can still catch a glimpse of that 8-year-old boy in the 62-year-old man.
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