Glenbrook resident wins 2 golds at World Masters Athletic Championships in Australia
At the World Masters Athletic Championships, Bill Harvey threw his way to a pair of gold medals. The Glenbrook resident took gold in the shot put and discus in the men’s 70-74 age group in the competition held in Western Australia Oct. 26 to Nov. 6.
Harvey won the shot put with a mark of 13.70 meters, finishing first by more than a meter over silver medalist Rein Kaljumae of Estonia. In the discus, Harvey threw a distance of 37.93 meters to win over silver medalist Knud Hoeyer of Denmark.
More than 4,000 athletes from six continents competed in the event held in Western Australia’s capital city during its springtime. United States athletes returned home with 74 golds.
USA Track and Field, the sanctioning body for all levels of the sport in the United States, also recently named Harvey an Age Group Athlete of the Year for ages 70-79. This marked the South Shore resident’s first time as an honoree.
“I have put my best effort into competing at the highest level,” Harvey said. “Getting recognition from your peers is gratifying and humbling, given the respect and admiration I have for the role models who have received this award in the past. It is a great ending to the 2016 season.”
In a decade of masters competition, Harvey has won three world championships and eight national titles. Prior to that, he was the head cross country and track and field coach for 20 years at Occidental College while teaching biomechanics and research methods. His athletes at Occidental brought home 44 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and 199 All-American awards.
During that time, the Tigers also notched top-10 NCAA team finishes on 16 separate occasions. Harvey volunteered locally at Whittell High for six seasons, and the athletes he coached won 55 gold medals in the NIAA State championships.
The world champion took some time to answer questions for Tahoe Daily Tribune about his latest competition:
What is with the cowboy hat while competing?
Competitors from around the world hear Nevada and they immediately think of cowboys. The hat keeps the sun off me, and the clever stuff about the American West to a minimum.
Have fellow competitors given you a nickname?
In my first worlds in Italy in 2007, a German surgeon, two German attorneys, and a giant Czech decided that I should be called “The Skinny Guy.” Since they were the guys that beat me, I did not argue. At 6 feet, 3 inches and over 225 pounds, it may seem a little silly. But the people that have beaten me in the past usually start at about 250 and go up — sometimes way up — from there.
How was the trip to Australia?
You had to remind me. They cancelled our flight to Australia without telling us. We left a day late, flew for 27 hours, and went through airports in Tokyo and Bangkok instead of non-stop to Australia. Not surprisingly, I woke up the next day with what I thought were spring allergies, but apparently I had caught a mild head cold. This illustrates why the goal is to win in international competition — when you see someone win and set records, they have to overcome a lot.
Does that explain your discus mark?
I wish it did. All of the 19 athletes had off days; it was surprising. The bit of wind was aiding, and it was a beautiful day with blue skies. Yet, it felt like the air had been replaced with motor oil. We all should have thrown at least three meters more.
Was the competition a good experience overall?
Tremendous. The Australians were gracious hosts, Perth is a beautiful setting, and we had a ball sailing on an Americas Cup racer from the 1990s in Sydney on the way home. But the best part of the competition was being among the best athletes in the world of a refined vintage. It is great to be among people who think what you do is normal and share your enthusiasm for masters competition. They keep me fired up.
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As another summer heads to Lake Tahoe, residents are finding ways to stay busy and one of the more popular activities to gain traction on both shores is pickleball.