PORT ANGELES — Bob Sheedy wasn’t sure how his knee would hold up if he tried to do another decathlon at the age of 78.
It turns out his fears were for naught, as not only did Sheedy get through the decathlon, held at the National Masters Decathlon Championships at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis., on Saturday and Sunday, he actually won his 75-79 age group.
Sheedy was the track and field coach at Port Angeles High School and retired last year as the head coach after 46 years, though he’s still an assistant coach. He’s competed in 10 decathlons. He said the last time he had competed in a seniors decathlon was two years ago at the Americas Senior Games decathlon, held in Vancouver, B.C., which he won.
But then he had to undergo knee replacement surgery. He wasn’t sure if he could ever compete in a decathlon again.
“I was very concerned” how the knee would hold up at the Masters event.
“This was my baptism by fire,” Sheedy said.
“I did everything off the right leg. You do have to the pole vault off the left leg,” he said.
One of the toughest events for Sheedy was the hurdles. Using a three- or four-step technique between hurdles, a hurdler jumps off the left leg. Sheedy used a five-step technique to jump off his right leg. He said halfway through his 80-meter hurdles, he realized he was alternating between jumping off his left leg and jumping off his right leg.
“It really became a battle between my mind and my body,” he said.
But, his knee survived. More importantly, he won the event.
In fact, Sheedy won seven out of the 10 decathlon events and piled up 4,629 points to take first in the two-day event.
Sheedy’s long jump mark of 3.63 meters (about 12 feet) leads the entire nation in the 75-79 age group.
Sheedy won all of the field events — the long jump, shot put, high jump, discus, pole vault and javelin. He tacked on a win in the 80-meter hurdles.
Sheedy said he didn’t win the 100-meter run and wasn’t able to finish the 400-meter and 1,500-meter runs. He wanted to give the 1,500 a go and got about 1,000 meters into it, but had to drop out.
“I wouldn’t have gotten any points anyway,” he said. But, he had built up so many points in the field events it didn’t matter.
“It was fun, I had a good time,” Sheedy said.
Sheedy is next taking state hurdling champion Millie Long of Port Angeles to the state prep decathlon championships Saturday and Sunday in Shoreline.