Otley Athletic Club’s Caroline Marler has just returned from the World Masters Athletic Championships in Perth, Australia, with two medals and a new European record to her name. The Masters World Championships are for all athletes over 35 years old, with competition being divided into 5 year age bands. The last was in Lyons, France and the previous one was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where Caroline won the world 800m title for 60-64 year olds.
Hampered first by a hip injury and then by a chest infection which made it impossible to train for the three weeks before the championships, it was at one point doubtful whether Caroline would be able to compete in Perth at all. As it was, she managed to reach the finals of both the 200m and the 800m in the first week, though unfortunately just missing out on medals in both these events.
Later, in the second week, she also qualified for the final of the 400m for women of 65 to 69. In the 400m final she claimed the bronze after tantalisingly leading the race with 20 metres to go. Her time of 71.34 seconds was a new European and British record, beating the old mark (made by Caroline earlier in 2016) by the large margin of just over one second. Caroline also ran the last leg of the 4 by 400m relay, in which the British Team ran well enough to break the old world record by over 3 seconds. Unfortunately this was not quick enough to beat a very strong Australian team so, despite their heroics, the Brits had to be content with silver. The USA came third.
The World Masters Championships are held every two years in cities all over the world, with the next being in Malaga, Spain in 2018. The Championships in Perth were by far the largest athletic event ever staged in Australia, with around 4500 competitors, which is about double the number taking part in the London 2012 olympics. This is over twice as many athletes as in the Sydney Olympics of 2004 and several times the number that competed in the Melbourne Olympics of 1956. Among the oldest were Romania’s 97 year-old Dumitru Radu, who successfully completed the 8 km cross country as well as the 800m. The oldest sprinter was Australia’s Arthur Carbon, a 96-year-old former soldier.
Information, and videos of the events can be found at the Championship: http://www.perth2016.com/