March 25, 2023 4 min read 3 Comments
Photo courtesy USA Track & Field.
By Ray Glier
His weight throw February 26 at a USA Track & Field regional meet was Ken Moss’s magnum opus. It was a world record, a signature feat.
It wasn’t a throw for an Olympic gold medal, or a world record in the weight throw for all time, for all ages. It was a world record for men age 75-79.
Moss, 75, heaved the weight 19.57 meters (64.2 feet) in Landover, Md.
He cherished it, but took it in stride, which is usually what Masters athletes do.
The record might fall this week at The World Masters Athletics championships in Poland at the hands of a Scandinavian who will stomp into the ring weighing 25-30 pounds more than the relative lightweight Moss.
“Yeah, my record might last three weeks,” Moss said with a chuckle at the USATF Masters Indoors Championships in Louisville two weeks ago.
Then he added with a shrug, “I’ll be watching what happens, sure. But nobody looks at the old guys records except the old guys.”
Hang around here and take a longer look at this particular old guy’s record. When you catch up on Moss’s story this isn’t just about an old guy having a record.
The man has one rebuilt shoulder, which means he has to maintain strength without being able to lift a bar full of weights over his head. Ken can no longer toss the shot. He had a cancerous tumor cut out of his prostate and had surgery for a double hernia.
And, get this, Moss is throwing the weight further at 75 then when he was in the 70-74 age group. His throws keep getting better, not just his story.
Moss, a Marine who served in Vietnam, walked away from the leisure of golf in 2009 and came back to throwing sports in Masters track & field. He was in his early 60s and he can’t really explain that decision.
“I was playing golf three, sometimes four, times a week and I just gave it up and this replaced it,” Moss said.
While he says he can’t explain swapping golfing for throwing, Moss waves his hand out toward the weight throwing pit to a gathering of other throwing competitors. They help explain it.
He was standing in the right line, so to speak, the one waiting to throw, not the one waiting to tee off.
“See some of these guys out there, I haven’t seen them in 40 years, now I see them all over the country,” Moss said.
They are like him, searching for that hypothetical fourth dimension and finding what they want out of life, which was simply just to keep going.
Moss, who grew up in Brooklyn, met many of these men when he threw the shot and discus and hammer on scholarship for New York University and competed for the U.S. Marine Corps track team. He met up with an old rival from West Point, who was in Louisville. That man missed the throwing circle, just like Moss missed it. Old times are good times again, but not nearly as intense.
“I root for them, they root for me,” said Ken, who lives in Leesburg, Va.
It wasn’t just the competition that has made Moss bear down on his physical fitness the last four years. Part of it was the cancer scare. He no longer would take life for granted. He poured himself into training, he said, though careful not to lift two days in a row and ruin everything with another injury.
Look at the drive of this guy. Ken is 75 years old and can deadlift 425 pounds and manage 625 off the rack with no straps.
“We played baseball as kids in Brooklyn and not every one got to play,” Moss said when I asked about his competitiveness with himself. “So you had to compete. That’s where it comes from.”
That doesn’t fully explain how he can be under 6-feet tall and still throw with the big boys, albeit older big boys.
Moss has the advantage of fast feet. Throughout the morning of his weight throw competition at the nationals in Louisville it was apparent Moss had the fastest feet of any of the throwers. He would spin just twice in the circle, not the customary three times, and it was enough for first place at 18.68 meters. It was not quite his world record toss in Landover, but good enough.
“I’m all technique, foot speed and balance,” Moss said. “I’m still fairly strong, but it’s all foot speed and balance. I couldn't get my balance today.”
When he was asked if he was starting to judge himself based on that world record throw, Moss smiled through a bushy mustache and said, “Yep, that’s what I was doing. I was trying to set an even bigger record.
“I have to reevaluate that.”
What he doesn’t have to reevaluate is his story. It’s remarkable as it is, but the “old guy” keeps adding to it.
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