World Masters Athletics Championships: year of hard work results in medals for Mt Pleasant athlete

Giovanni Puglisi. Picture: Will Russell
Giovanni Puglisi. Picture: Will Russell

A YEAR of dedication and hard work paid off for Giovanni Puglisi when he claimed two silver medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships earlier this month.

After illness struck him down before last year’s World Masters in Lyon, France, Puglisi was determined to bounce back in his home city and over the past 12 months has been a near constant presence at Mt Henry Bridge Reserve where he trains.

Competing in three events in the 65-69 year old category, the Mt Pleasant resident opened his account with a team silver in the 8km cross country and also ran second in his favourite event, the 2000m steeplechase.

Puglisi recorded a steeplechase time of 8:01.25, good enough to set a new Western Australian record in his age group.

He also ran ninth in the 5000m in a time of 19.43.10.

“The cross country was up first and there were 24 Australians running in my age division alone, so I was pretty happy to finish second of the Aussies and have my time count towards the overall team time,” Puglisi said.

The fastest three runners from each country comprise a team; Great Britain’s combined time of 1:36.19 beating Australia by just under two minutes.

“Next up was the 5km and I didn’t think I’d finish in the top three so I used it more as a training run; I actually felt really good throughout the run and set a new season best time so I was pretty happy with the result,” Puglisi said.

“In the steeplechase all the training I did in that park really paid off; I’m pleased to say I was the only one that actually hurdled the barriers rather than stepping up and over them.

“I was beaten by a Victorian who pulled away towards the end and I just couldn’t keep up but I was still very pleased with silver and it was a big thrill to stand up and accept the medal.”

The long-time Banksia Park Primary teacher said he hoped his story would inspire others to keep up or pick up athletics despite their age and urged anybody considering getting involved to visit the Masters Athletics WA website or check out one of the many Park Runs hosted in Perth each weekend.