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80-year-old resident sets his sights on race walking medal in Poland

80-year-old resident sets his sights on race walking medal in Poland

Together Housing tenant and race walking champion Mick Barker is setting his sights on another medal as he jets off to Poland for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Bronze Level Road Races.

Taking place on between the 24th and 30th March 2019, 80-year-old Mick has been selected to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the World Masters Championships, competing in the  3,000m Indoor Track Race and the 10km Road Race.

Despite carrying a hamstring injury for the last 12 months, causing Mick to reschedule his training to a minimum in order to compete, he still has his eyes on the prize.

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Mick says: “This will be the first time that I have visited Poland, so it is an honour for me to be representing the United Kingdom again.”

Mick first began race walking in the 1960s at a high level. Mick gave up race walking in 1968, but recently picked things up where he had left them 50 years later in 2018, after sadly losing his wife Marlene.

“In 2018 I was selected for an international duty representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2018 and had great success, winning the bronze medal in the European Masters Championships in the 10km Road Walk in Alicante.

“After that, I became 10km Track Race Walking gold medallist for the GB/NI Masters Championships at Oxford Stadium, as well as 5km Road Walking gold medallist for GB/NI Masters Championships at Horwich. I even received a medallion for 4th place in the World Masters Championships 5km Track Race Walk in Malaga.”

After Mick’s wife Marlene sadly passed away in 2015, rekindling his love of race walking gave him a new sense of freedom, and now he’s urging others to take up a hobby and bring joy to their lives.

“My advice would be to just find something you’re interested in, make enquiries and just get stuck in. Your hobby doesn’t have to be sport related – possibly something you’ve thought about many times in the past, but never taken that leap forward.

“Finding a new hobby opens up a new lease of life – it’s good to be passionate about something and it gives you the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

“You might surprise yourself. Taking up a hobby can really help by acting as a therapy, it gives you a lift and makes you feel better about yourself.”

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