Chebanse athlete 8th in world meet

Larry LaGesse, the 67-year-old track and field athlete from Chebanse, brought home the National Masters Decathlon title earlier this year, but didn’t fare as well at last week’s World Masters Athletics meet in Lyon, France.

He noted that he was “definitely disappointed” with his eighth-place finish in what qualifies as the largest and hottest meet in which he has ever participated.

“There were 8,020 athletes competing, so the schedules were tight,” he said in a call from the south of France Monday. “Our group [65-70 year olds] competed Tuesday and Wednesday. We would head for the stadium by 6 a.m., and we wouldn’t finish until 9 at night.

Further complicating the agenda, the temperatures on the field hovered about 110 degrees.

“There was definitely a shortage of water and shade, but that’s not an excuse: It was the same for all of us.”

LaGesse salvaged some pride, he noted, winning the discus competition, with a toss that went 12 feet further than the second-place finisher.

“I ran into a problem with my hamstring in the pole vault, but I decided this was the world championships, I had to go for it,” he said. “And I wasn’t alone with the aches and pains. I made a lot of friends here, and they all have little tweaks. Some folks had to drop out, but I made it through.”

The former Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School athlete noted that his hamstring problem was aggravated when he missed a hurdle and then bothered him more in the long jump competition.

“I could get through the javelin throw OK, but it slowed me down in the 1,500-meter run,” he said. “I still had hopes for a top five finish, but the guys I had to beat were ahead of me in the 1,500, and I couldn’t catch them.”

So, would he consider making a second stab at the world title?

“Well, let’s say… in a heartbeat, but definitely not next week.”


Larry LaGesse

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