Ames, Iowa —Don’t make the mistake of telling George Parker III, 71, that he can’t do something, because odds are, you will probably be proven wrong.
A 1966 graduate of Reidsville Senior High School, Parker won a pair of USA Track and Field Master Championships in the individual 200 meter and the team 4X100 relay events at the nationals which were held at Iowa State University from July 11 through 14.
The USTA host’s track and field events for people ages 30 and up in the classified masters division and Parker proved he had the metal to compete with the best senior athletes from all across the country.
“It’s fantastic. It stunned me to be quite honest with you. I haven’t been doing this but two years and the vast majority of the competition have been doing this for all of their lives. They competed in high school and college and some are ex-Olympians. Actually, that is the first time I have ever run the 400 in an official meet. It worked out pretty well. It is what it is – it is a national championship and for me and it is the pinnacle of master’s competition in this country. It is as high as you can go,” Parker said.
After graduating from Reidsville, Parker attended Western Carolina prior to enlisting in the Navy where he served from 1969 to 1973.
While at Reidsville he was a standout on the wrestling team and after graduation, he served as an assistant coach at both Reidsville and Rockingham from 1987 to 1997.
A retired carpenter of nine years, Parker, who owned and operated Reidsville Custom Cabinet Shop, said he feels it is important to stay active. He believes competing at both state and national events has given him a broader perspective on what can be done when you commit and put your mind and body, not only to a goal, but a healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve always been active and fortunate enough to have good genes or whatever you want to call it. I’ve stayed active and kept myself in shape. But over the last two years, going out and seeing these people competing in the masters programs in track and field, I realized the sky is the limit. We have people in track that are doing some amazing stuff. We had one lady competing in the 100 meter dash that is 103 years old. The oldest man is 101. He’s running the 100, 200 and 400 meter dash. I mean it’s incredible what these senior people can do,” he said.
Parker didn’t take much time off to bask in the glory of his most recent championship wins. He’s currently training for another national track event which will take place in Lynchburg, Virginia on Aug. 3 and 4.
When he’s not training at the Reidsville Recreation department for an event, Parker also enjoys swimming and camping with his children and grand children. He said that’s one of the great things about retirement — being able to spend quality time with his family.
For most people, retirement is all about taking it easy. But for Parker, that competitive spirit fostered in his youth continues to burn bright. His drive to continue to want to be the best and the many medals and championships he has added to his mantle along the way, shows he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank as he turns the corner and looks forward to many fruitful and fun-filled miles ahead.