Olympic athletes weren’t the only people to pick up gold medals this summer. Wildwood Road resident Art McDermott returned from the US National Master’s Track and Field Championships in Lisle, Illinios with a gold medal in the discus.
He won the gold in the 50- to 55-year-old division, the youngest and most competitive age group in the national master’s competitions.
McDermott, a former Strongman competitor who owns Matrix Strength & Fitness in Wilmington, defeated the returning champ by about 5 feet, throwing the discus 50.04 meters, or nearly 165 feet back on July 5.
Ed Riewerts, the 2011 winner, came in third with a throw of 47.63 meters. Tim Williams of Dallas, Texas, came in second, heaving the discus 48.57 meters.
McDermott was the only competitor from New England in the top 10 of his age group.
Q&A WITH THE MASTER
When did you first become involved with track and field? The discus? I started throwing the shot put and discus in my junior year of high school...after I didn’t make the hockey team at Malden Catholic - they were at one of the top teams around even then. Not a long high school track career in high school, but productive! I was Globe All-Scholastric my senior year. This opened the door to a full scholarshp at Boston University.
What else, if anything, do you compete in? I have competed professionally in the Scottish Highland Games as well as US Strongman circuit. Currently, the Master’s Track is my main focus.
What attracted you to the discus?
The short version: I really like throwing stuff!
Once I hit 50 I became much more active with my discus throwing. I felt a strong need to get back into throwing. I love setting goals for myself. It keeps me focused. Right now, my next goal is to attend the World Masters Games in Torino, Italy, next August. I have already started training for that one.
Another positive point is that the actual implement itself for my age group gets lighter. The weight goes from 2 kilograms to 1.5 kilos - a pretty significant drop.
A more practical benefit is that discus throwing doesn’t hurt! I have been quite hard on my joints over the years, so certain things leave me more sore than others. I am fortunate that discus throwing, something I have done now for about 34 years, is somewhat pain-free.
How quickly do you know you have made a good throw?
At this point in my career, I know whether or not I have had a good throw as soon as it leaves my hand. There is a lot of torque or “pull” that gets generated during a good throw, so as soon as it leaves my hand I know whether or not I have hit a good one. I just hope it happens more often than not! I have to say, when it does happen, there is really nothing like it.
Your competitive best: Now (as a “master”) or at some time when you were younger?
Master’s Best Throw: 50.27 meters or 165 feet. It is important to note that this discus weighs 1.5 kilos.
My best throw as an “open” thrower aka - when I was young - 64.08 meters or 210’ 4” with a 2 kilo discus. I believe this still stands as the All-Time New England record. As a point of comparison, the winner of the London Olympic games - Robert Harting threw just over 68 meters. It is his technique I do my best to emulate these days.
How long do you plan on competing?
I will definitely compete as long as my body allows. I always need some sort of goal to work towards with my training. I strongly believe if you do not always attempt to see what your body is capable of, decline is inevitable. I will fight that every step of the way. In many ways, I feel like I am just getting going.
Do you do anything unusual to train?
I like to mix in a many different training styles. Since my body cannot handle the heavy weights I used to, I mix in anything that improves my speed and athleticism. This means Olympic lifting, lots of jumping, and even boot camp style training.
What is the No. 1 thing people 50 and over can/should do to stay in shape?
The first thing that jumps to my mind when I see that question is resistance training. Once you hit the age of 40, we can lose 1/2 pound of muscle mass yearly. The only way to avoid this is resistance training. I have seen first hand. Folks over 40 and above can easily add muscle mass with consistent strength training. Cardio work alone is not the answer. If people rely on walking or running alone, they are not getting the full benefit of their valuable time.