Indoor Track & Field

Second in ten-part series: 800M World masters champ Joe Gough no ordinary Joe

Second in ten-part series: Joe Gough no ordinary Joe. This series focuses on the Top Irish masters performances of all time.

While awaiting my 800 preliminary race at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest, I struck up a conversation with one of the other Irish competitors. As we parted ways, my younger compatriot remarked: “You look good for 60″… So, he may have mistaken me for a more distinguished and accomplished Joe. Even at age 48, this Joe will take that comment as a compliment … I think.

The real Joe — that is Joe Gough — is fast beyond his years and truly looked great on the track as the world’s fastest 800 meter runner over the age of 60. Gough won the 800 meters in Budapest but not with an early round scare where all runners advance on time. This puts runners in the first heat at a distinct disadvantage (Memo to WMA: Change this) and fortunately Gough edged through to the semi-final. He coasted into the final where he was an impressive winner in 2:16.

The Waterford runner defeated American Nolan Shaheed who, by the way, is a noted jazz musician as well as a prolific collector of USA Track and Field national titles. Shaheed has “performed with some of the world’s best and most respected artists, including Natalie Cole, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, according to a feature posted to the USAT&F site. At worlds, Gough proved to be the smoother operator as he turned on the speed to beat Shaheed on the last lap.

“I already had won two world silver medals getting a third would be seen as a failure in my eyes. I knew my training leading up to the championships was spot on. The fact that I had broken the world record a month earlier in Athlone was a great help and I didn’t see it as a burden going to Budapest even though I was the man to beat. It must be remembered that it was a very competitive field with the outdoor world record holder (Shaheed) involved as well as former World and European champions,'” Gough said shortly after his win.

“Having gone through the heats and semis the days before the final was all set for me to perform what I wanted to achieve and had prepared for all these years. Going into the last lap Nolan Shaheed made his bid for gold when he opened a slight gap after the bell, following behind I kicked at 100m and gained a few meters to lead into the home straight to the cheers of the large Irish contingent crossing the line with out stretched arms in a state of relief, exhilaration and thankfulness.”

“I started running at the tender age of eleven it has taken me fifty years to win a world gold medal. I know for others it has taken a lot less but there you go it just proves that there is hope for all of us.”

Fair warning: The ambient noise and colorful impromptu commentary (while the camera crew clears a view for the coverage of Joe Gough’s win at worlds) may be offensive to some — but quite funny to the rest of us.

Medalists in Budapest: Ireland won ten medals, including two gold medals:
• Brian Lynch (Gold) M60 1500.
• Joe Gough (Gold) M60 800.
• Ann Woodlock (Silver) M75 3000.
• Mick Traynor (Silver) M45 Cross Country.
• Joe Gough (Bronze) M60 1500.
• Geraldine Finnegan (Bronze) F45 Pentathlon.
• John McDermott (Bronze) M65 Pentathlon.
• Mary Barrett (Bronze) F55 Shot Put.
• Cathal McLaughlin (Bronze) M45 1500.
• Ann Woodlock (Bronze) F75 1500.

Declan Murray with Mark English at a warm weather training camp in Stellenbosch in January
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