Track star defies the test of time

July 11, 2011 1:49:33 PM PDT
An 88-year-old man is dominating his age group in Track and Field events.

They begin in the cool darkness of the stadium at Morehouse College, out on the track, brutal training that breeds champions.

In their midst, the number one nationally ranked U.S. track and field star, Coach Dr. Lydia Woods.

"I encourage him to really attack the bar when he gets up to it and get some height," she said.

The person she is encouraging is Ross, an 88-year-old man. A celebrated decathlete, a U.S. track and field champion.

"I entered 13 events. I got eight gold first place medals and five silver," he said.

This, from a man who took up running at the age of 70. The catalyst was his 50th high school reunion.

"It looked like most of the people were ready for the grim reaper. They were retired, life was not much to do except watch tv," he said.

To be fair, Ross never really sat around, serving in World War II, the Korean War and doing three tours in Vietnam. This former ranger transferred that discipline to this.

"I do the 100 meter run, the 200, the 400, the 800, the three mile, the 10k," he adds.

Most of Ross' friends are younger because most of his older friends are gone.

He runs a mile in a little over 10 minutes, 100 meters in 21 seconds. And he's working to improve those times and has no plans to slow down.

"I would like to be doing this certainly when I'm 90 when I'll, sounds maybe crude to say, there will be less competition. But that's a fact."

Also a fact, he's taught his coach as much as she's taught him.

"I'm learning so much from Charles, I'm learning about the grace of aging. Everybody wants to be Charles. I particularly want to be him in 30 years," Ross adds.