March 18, 2023 4 min read 7 Comments
Gloria Krug preparing to heave the shot for gold at the World Masters Athletics championships in 2019. Photo by Rob Jerome.
By Ray Glier
When you get to 91 years old and you are still throwing the javelin or the shot and attempting the long jump, there is no magic trick to explain it. Gloria Krug (kroog) is going to Poland for the World Masters Athletics championships (March 26-April 1) where she is signed up for seven events and the meat in the sandwich is pretty clear to Gloria.
“Nothing hurts,” she says.
That’s it? That’s all? That’s why you are able to keep doing this?
“Yep," she said, "nothing hurts and I eat good food and drink a lot of milk. Mom and dad told me tea and coffee are not good for me. I still drink Cocoa and Ovaltine.”
Mom and dad were in Gloria's ear a long time because both lived to be over 100. Nothing hurts partly because genes have given Krug some body armor.
Gloria has done the rest with spirit and cheerfulness.
She was sitting next to the long jump runway in Louisville last weekend at the USATF Masters Indoors Championships and looked down at her leg. She tapped her knee, flexed her elbow, and rapped her head softly with a closed fist. It’s all there in one piece. She gave a shrug.
For my money, Krug and Dixon Hemphill and Richard Soller, among others in their 90s, are the tip of the spear of this crusade by the older demographic to keep moving and not wither away. So it is important for USA Track & Field to help pay her way to Poland. She might be the only 90-something in the field in her events in Torun, which means she could come away with seven gold medals.
“One of the goals of the USATF Masters Track & Field Committee is to maximize the number of medals won by U.S. athletes at World Masters Athletics competitions,” Jerry Bookin-Weiner, the Chair of the USATF Masters Track & Field Committee wrote in an email.
“We have reached out to encourage Gloria to participate in those meets because she is a strong competitor who is in an age group with very few other competitors and therefore likely to increase our medal count, as she did in Poland four years ago and in Finland last summer.”
Bookin-Weiner said it is “highly-likely” Gloria will win seven gold medals in Poland, which is quite the return on investment. USATF Masters has a program where it gives travel grants of up to $1,000.00 for likely medal winners who would not otherwise be able to afford to go, Bookin-Weiner said.
The program has been in place since 2019, and Gloria submitted applications for grants for the WMA meets in 2019, 2022, and 2023. In Poland, Krug will compete in the hammer, discus, shot, javelin, weight throw, long jump, and triple jump.
“Gloria is one of the best Masters competitors in the US and we want to encourage people like her to compete at the highest level, and I'm very glad that she continues to rise to those challenges,” Bookin-Weiner wrote.
The only problem is Krug has to compete against herself. She is not happy about that, as if she was some sort of hood ornament. In the end, she agreed to wear the red, white, and blue.
“No competition and that’s no good,” Krug said. “So I have to beat myself.”
Of course, there is more to Gloria’s march to Poland than good genes and Ovaltine. She works out six days a week and takes Sunday off. She rides her bike and stretches and lifts. Gloria will get in the pool and do water aerobics.
“I live in a retirement center and they all think I’m crazy because I go out and practice,” Krug said. “It’s something I want to do. It makes me feel good.”
She piles all of her elements in her small cottage, which is in New Oxford, Pa. She bought one element at a time, as she could afford the sport.
Gloria had some disagreements with other residents about her small area of the grounds where she practices. Residents would wander over with their dogs and she would have to shoo people out of the way for their own safety.
"They think I'm crazy," she repeated.
Of course, Gloria being a Marine, she is respectful, but she doesn’t back down easily if she feels she is right. She was active duty 10 years and reserves 23 years and then the Corps booted her (age) because she wouldn't leave on her own.
“I was just getting good at it,” Gloria said.
What she’s really good at is showing the rest of us what a little effort looks like. We can’t have her genes, but we can have her drive, her moxie.
"You don't stop playing because you get older, you get older because you stop playing," Krug said.
And then she said, “We all don’t get old at the same time.”
Gloria with the javelin. Photo by Rob Jerome.
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