Nelson athlete Dave Riddell mastering track and field at the age of 63

Dave Riddell of Stoke is about to compete at the World Masters Athletics Championships in South Korea.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Dave Riddell of Stoke is about to compete at the World Masters Athletics Championships in South Korea.

Dave Riddell was 61 when he won his first race.

"I was dumbstruck," he said.

The motivational speaker from Nelson attempted to get into running at a young age but was frequently forced to stop due to the stitch.

He said it plagued him throughout his life and limited his participation in any sport.

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But it was when he picked up Peter Snell's book, Lose It or Use It, that Riddell was inspired to give running another go.

He had recently stumbled across a piece of research that explained how to minimise the impact of the stitch, so Riddell threw on some trainers and went for a jog around the block.

He said he didn't make it to the end at the first attempt, but, perhaps practicing what he preaches, Riddell did not give up.

Riddell was inspired to start running at the age of 60 after reading Peter Snell's book Use It or Lose It.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Riddell was inspired to start running at the age of 60 after reading Peter Snell's book Use It or Lose It.

"Someone said it's possible to be fitter and faster at 61 than you were as a teenager if you wanted to take it seriously. I had never heard such a thing in my life," he said.

"So I decided to put it to the test."

After many nights of training alone, Riddell was inspired to enter his first race. He lined up at the South Island Masters Games - and won.

"I had always assumed that as you get older you get weaker and more tired, but it's not true."

Riddell has now taken his newfound passion for running to another level and flew to South Korea to compete at the World Masters Athletics Championships on Thursday. He said his friends and family can't believe it.

"They're a bit incredulous. They're amazed. I seem to have emerged from the woodwork.

"I've left my run pretty late but there's nothing like a sprint at the finish, which seems to be my style. Down at my running club they call me the sprinter because I always sprint at the end whether I'm stuffed or not.

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"I say to them that if I'm not on the ground at the end of it that they should hit me with a piece of timber because I ought to be."

Riddell will compete in the 60m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m, and said his reason for competing in South Korea is just to become more familiar with track protocols and to "coach myself out of nervousness".

Riddell said he has no plans to stop running and will endeavour to break a New Zealand record within the next 12 months.

"I'm going to take it as far as I can go and I've got plenty left in the tank yet."

 - Stuff

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