Well-known Kiama identity Arnie Delaite has proven it is never too late to follow your dreams, having won six gold medals at the Australian Masters Athletics Championships in Perth after a 53 year break.
Arnie, 75, was a champion college athlete at the University of Maine when growing up in the United States, specialising in the discus, javelin and shot put. In fact, his shot put record at his old university was only broken a few years ago, having stood for more than half a century.
However, his athletics career was interrupted after he graduated – first due to Army service then travelling the globe, which saw him meet his future wife Kay and eventually settle in Kiama Downs. He taught mathematics at local high schools (principally Oak Flats HS), raised a family and established a successful business, Kookaburra Educational Resources. He kept fit by playing basketball and, more recently, golf.
However, he never lost his love for field athletics, and last year entered a Winter Throws event at Kerryn McCann Field in Wollongong to see if he still had what it took to compete. His efforts at that meeting inspired him to celebrate turning 75 this year by entering the 2018 Australian Masters Athletics Championships held in Perth in the last week of April.
After weeks of preparation at Croom Road Sports Complex, Arnie flew to Perth for the Masters, where he dominated the 75-79 years category, winning the Pentathlon (five throwing events over three hours), the discus, javelin, shot put, hammer and heavy hammer.
“It seems that after 53 years away from the sport there were still a few good throws left,” Arnie said.
“A little bit of training and some luck came together for a great week.”
Arnie’s friends are encouraging him to compete in the World Masters in Majorca later in the year.