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John Parks winning athletic honors at 77

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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 When it comes to winning athletic competitions, John Parks proves that age is just a number.

Last October, Parks, 77, won a bronze metal for the decathlon event in the senior division of the 2016 World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, Australia.

However, the 2016 Championship events at the senior division level were not Parks’ first high-level athletic competitions. The Lincoln Hills’ resident has won silver and bronze medals in previous games.

The 2016 World Masters Athletics Championships Decathlon, attended by 4,000 athletes from 80 countries, comprised 10 events held over a 10-day period.

On the first day, the events included the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter run. Second-day events were hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run, according to Parks.

Parks prepared for the event with a routine of workouts on a treadmill, weight machines and “occasional trips to Lincoln High School to work on techniques.”

Born and raised on a Texas cattle ranch, Parks is a retired veterinarian, university professor and former state director of a veterinary association. He moved to Lincoln Hills in 2000 where he enjoys tennis, softball and playing the clarinet at the community music group’s Open Mic events. Parks also participates in stand-up comedy in the Lincoln Hills vaudeville and tap productions.

In addition, Parks plays second-base on the active adult community’s Coyotes’ baseball team.

“John is very athletic and one of the team’s better players,” said Coyotes’ teammate George Bungarz. “When he comes up to bat, he’s our homerun hitter.”

Maintaining strength through regular exercise is important to quality of life, according to Parks.

“I want to live longer and better through exercise. Longevity is a little trickier, (because) it is determined 80 percent by genes and 20 percent by lifestyle,” Parks said. “The most important of the lifestyle factors is exercise, including strength training and aerobic exercise.”

When it comes to an exercise regimen for seniors, Parks’ advice is to start slowly.

“Start slow, slow, slow to keep from getting discouraged and burning out. Twice a week minimum for at least 30 minutes and three times is better.  At least one day of rest between sessions to allow muscles to recover,” Parks said. “Strength can be increased at any age. If you need prodding, join one of the many group classes or even employ a personal trainer.”

Not about to let age affect his dreams, when the next World Masters Athletics Championships come around, Parks intends to compete again.

“If my body says ‘OK,’ I plan to try again when I reach the 80-year-old group,” Parks said. “The games are held every two years and will be in Toronto when I’m 81.”

 

Carol R. Percy can be reached at carolp@goldcountrymedia.com or 774-7967.