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Master Athlete Going for the Gold

Discus thrower, 68, to compete in national track and field championships

Profile of Steve Marcus, a 68-year-old discus thrower who got back into the sport at age 65. In July he is heading to Ohio to compete in the National Masters Field and Track games.

Master athlete Steve Marcus practices his throw. — Courtesy Marcus

Steve Marcus loved competing as a discus thrower in high school. But he always lamented that he never won a medal in the sport.

So three years ago, he decided to do something about that. Marcus went online and bought a discus, drove over to a baseball field near his New Rochelle, N.Y., home and started throwing. Disappointed when he couldn't hurl the discus much farther than from home base to the pitcher's mound, he set off for a nearby high school and persuaded the track coach to give him a few lessons.

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Those lessons paid off. Marcus, now 68, is headed this week to the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Berea, Ohio. About 1,100 athletes, 750 of them over age 50, are expected to compete at the four-day event.

"I didn't think much about throwing the discus all those years" after high school, says Marcus. "I was too busy making money, raising a family and living my life. But I always regretted not winning a medal back then because I'm a competitive guy and I remembered how much I loved it."

Marcus wanted to again master the many movements involved in discus throwing. "The [track] coach was wondering what she had on her hands," he says. "She was used to dealing with kids. But she was a good sport, and I kept getting a little better all the time."

In a few months, he was practicing five evenings a week as well as working out, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike. "Exercising for your health is fine," he says, "but exercising with a goal in mind gives it another dimension.

"Discus is a beautiful sport, there's something elegant about throwing it with the right form, kind of like hitting a golf ball that floats through the air in a perfect arc and lands just where it's supposed to."

Ready to compete

When he could throw about 100 feet, Marcus signed up for the 2008 Connecticut Senior Summer Olympics, open to anybody over 50. He went home with a silver medal. "It was great," he says. "You compete against people in age groups starting at 50 to 55 and going all the way up to 85 to 89 and then 90-plus. There were only four or five people competing in my age group, and we had a lot of laughs. There are all kinds of events and gatherings, so you get to meet everybody. Some people do this for fun, but a lot of people, like me, take it far more seriously."

Next: Senior games are a social event. >>

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