Kiama Downs’ Arnie Delaite returned home from Perth recently, having cleaned up with six gold medals at the Australian Masters Athletics Championships.
Competing in the 75-79 years category, Arnie won six events, including the five event pentathlon, javelin, discus, shot put, hammer and heavy weight throw, bagging himself six medals.
“Flying to Perth I started to ask myself why I would actually do something like this after 53 years. I had a little over three weeks to get ready for five totally different events,” Delaite said.
“I didn’t have any implements to train with, so I ordered a javelin, a shot put, a discus and a hammer on the internet.
“Having competed earlier in the winter weight throws in Wollongong without any practice I knew I had to improve my earlier effort.”
Following the javelin and the discus I had two more gold medals and much to my surprise things were going much better than I had anticipated.Arnie Delaite
Delaite said he began to gain his confidence after the first day of competition, in which he won two gold medals in the hammer throw and shot put.
“The next morning I woke up to a rush of emails from local golf mates with congrats and words of encouragement,” he said.
“Following the javelin and the discus I had two more gold medals and much to my surprise things were going much better than I had anticipated.”
The next day Delaite competed in the pentathlon.
“In three hours we had to compete in five events with only three throws in each event,” he said.
“All events went well except the javelin. Trying too hard the previous day I threw my shoulder out. I didn’t take a warm-up throw and just took one throw in the event far below my best.”
However, Delaite had more than enough points in the overall competition to win gold.
The final day of competition saw the weight throw.
“I managed one good throw with one turn to win the final gold,” Delaite said.
“The flight home was a relaxed pleasure. It was a great feeling having competed and done well.
“It was great fun competing in a sport that I enjoyed so much in my younger days and being able to share stories with the other competitors about their younger competitive days, their coaching and about other members of the families following in their footsteps.”
Mr Delaite said one of the joys of competing came from the people he met at the competition.
“Most have been competing for years and had know some of the other competitors for a long time,” he said.
“During my free time I would sit with groups of these people and listen to stories of their competition and their best results over the years.”
In preparation for the national event, Delaite practised for three hours several times a week over a three week period at Croom Road Sports Complex.
“I also did some weight training at home for three days a week,” he said.
“During some free time I would practice turns with the hammer, discus and shot put in the garage.”
Delaite was a champion athlete in his college days in the US, his shot put record at the University of Maine stood for more than 50-years.
“Having played three sports in high school I decided to play football my first year at university but gave up basketball to join the indoor track team,” he said.
“I found a home there and broke the university record my freshman year. I continued to improve that record over the next four years.
“My second year at university I broke the university record in the javelin and broke that record again the next year.
“I threw my arm out in the last meet of the year and couldn’t throw the javelin my senior year. I threw the hammer and weight my senior year but with less success than the other events.
The World Masters Athletics Championships will be held in Spain in September, Delaite is still weighing up his options.
I’m thinking about it,” he said.
“I have until July 11 to register so I’m going to see how much I can improve in the next two months and make a decision before the deadline.
“I’m having fun and my son and daughter are enjoying some training as well. They were a great help in my training before the national titles.”