January 14, 2023 5 min read 18 Comments
Photo courtesy Florida Sports Foundation.
*India is No. 1 in the U.S. in 3 sprints (W60-64).
*She trains with the idea of What's Possible?
*Veteran of U.S. Marine Corps fundraising for world events.
By Ray Glier
Sprinter India Bridgette, 61, knew she had some more speed in her. Home hacks and do-it-yourself would not set that speed free. India could not skim the foam, which means to rely solely on skill, and run faster.
So she hired a sprint coach, then another sprint coach, and this second coach came with USA Track & Field certification. Dantwan Spreads had India start paying more attention to the details of sprinting, like her steps coming out of the blocks. He gave her regimented workouts because he was not a cuddly coach.
A year ago India added a strength-training regimen because running fast involves more than your legs, after all.
So get to it. How fast can this woman run?
According to www.mastersrankings.com, Bridgette closed 2022 ranked No. 1 in the world in the 50 for her age group (Women 60-64). She was No. 2 in the world (No. 1 in the U.S.) in the 100, and No. 5 in the world (No. 1 in the U.S.) in the 200.
The coaching and the weight training mattered.
It’s ok to lace up your shoes and run in track meets for fun, but India wanted more. It wasn’t the medals she wanted more of, it was what was inside her she wanted more of. She wanted to see the full view of what was there, what was possible.
“I just felt like there's so much more in me,” India said several times.
She seemed to be saying over and over to herself, “What’s possible?”
It’s why her story should resonate with us as we climb in age and are told what’s not possible. What’s Possible is a creed we should all live by, right? It doesn’t have to be running fast. It could be simply be learning to relax. “What’s possible if I just put myself at ease.” You make What’s Possible possible.
India has advanced training for What’s Possible. She is a U.S. Marine and served for six years and these soldiers learn forward is the only way possible.
She had the discipline that comes from her Marine Corps tour, not to mention the 18 years of discipline under the roof of Julia Bridgette, a single mom who raised four in York, Pa.
India also had physical gifts, passed from her mother who also ran track. Those gifts included a strong core, muscled legs, flexibility, and a sturdy frame. When you look at her, India comes off as a powerful 400-meter runner, not a lithe sprinter.
India is putting it all together, the speed, the power, the technique.
At the Florida Senior Games on Dec. 11, in her first races back since breaking her right foot in May at The National Senior Games, India went ok fast. She was mildly disappointed in the times—7.54 seconds in the 50 and 14.14 in the 100 and 29.24 in the 200—but she still won gold medals in all three.
It is almost a duty for India to see how much of herself she can pour into Masters track now that she is retired. She trains five or six days a week. India understands she cannot change her fortune without work, just like the rest of us this time of year who understand we can’t lose weight without lowering caloric intake.
But before you think India is all spit and polish and has no bijou to her personality, her brand pops at you.
India’s presentation on the track is delightful. For several years she ran under a blonde bouffant of hair with a lime green, or yellow track suit. In December, she arrived in Florida with orange hair and, fittingly, ran with her hair on fire, metaphorically speaking.
But India’s black tee-shirt in Florida with the name of her track club “Takeoff” disappointed the crew of runners and family who followed her and had bonded with her style.
“India? What’s with the black? We wore lime green for you” they chided her.
She was sheepish, like she had let down a horde of fans. “I know, I know,” she said to them in Florida.
India has asked her coach, Dantwan “Ynot” Spreads, the owner of the Takeoff club, to out-fit her in some colors that respect her exuberance.
The colors and the hair are not ornamentation, or gilded showpieces meant to impress on their own. India has a personality and bounce to match the effervescence of her colors, not to mention the speed on the track. Her family flocked to the Florida Senior Games to see her run and it’s hard to imagine a stodgy sister drawing a crowd like that.
Here is the thing about wearing electric gear in the ring. If you don’t match the eccentricity with results you can be a curiosity, or worse, a sideshow or show pony.
India can walk the talk.
She just has to remember to not be so exuberant that it results in calamity.
In May, India set a new U.S. record for the age group in the 100-meter dash by going 13.64 at the National Senior Games. When she heard the announcement over the loudspeakers of her record, she leaped in the air in celebration, landed, and promptly broke her right foot.
She wouldn’t run in a meet again until the Florida Senior Games.
(In 2010, the California Angels’ Kendry Morales hit a grand slam to win the game and when he got to home plate he leaped and slipped and broke his leg. Morales missed the rest of the 2010 season.)
India missed the World Masters Athletics meet in Finland and the USATF Masters Outdoors Championships, which was a setback after 5 1/2 years of steady improvement.
India jumped into Masters track in 2017 and finished 8th in the 100 in Birmingham, Ala., at the National Senior Games. By 2022, at the USATF Masters Indoors Championships in the Armory in New York, she was setting a national record in the 60 (8.78) and was named USATF’s Athlete of the Year for Women 60-64.
“I’ve never been properly trained until now,” Bridgette said. “I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania and it wasn’t a big deal to get women trained in track in high school. This is a chance to see how fast I can get.”
The goal is to get to Poland for the world indoors and then to Sweden for the world outdoors.
The thing about serving your country…it won’t make you rich. India wants to go to Europe for the two World Masters Athletics meets so she has set up a website. Here is a link to her GoFundMe page to help her go to Poland and beyond. The deadline to register for world indoors for Poland is Jan. 31.
Here is another link to explore, a website called What’s Possible. It shows an outline of a toddler in vibrant colors rising on legs and growing into an adult as the colors become less vibrant. India has kept her vibrancy, her jauntiness, and you can see it in her enthusiasm, but also on the track with her colors.
She asks What’s Possible? The rest of us should do that, too. Every day.
These India colors are more like her style.
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