Sri Chinmoy opened the V World Veteran's Track & Field Games, San Juan, Puerto Rico, at Hiram Bithorn Stadium with a silent meditation. Over 2000 masters athletes from 47 countries competed in the event. He also wrote the Games' official anthem, as well as competing in the Games. Sri Chinmoy met with many of the veteran athletes, including his friend, Payton Jordan:
"Payton Jordan." (Press Release). Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, New York: "You don't retire; you just step in another direction and do new, exciting things, face new challenges and new opportunities."...Payton Jordan
Payton Jordan, recently retired as Stanford U's track and field coach, finally took part in his first Olympic competition. He joined 2000 other athletes from 47 countries at the V World Masters Games, held in Puerto Rico in September. When he left, it was with a gold medal and a new world record in the 100 meter sprint (12.73); plus silver medals in the 200 meter and 400 meter events.
Jordan was, in his youth, one of America's legendary sprinters, with his athletic portrait appearing as the cover of Life Magazine. He missed the World Olympics his first time around when the 1940 games were canceled because of the War, but in 1941 at a club championship in Jamaica, WI, he established a new world record when he ran 9.5 on grass in the 100 meters. He retired from sprinting shortly after this and began an equally legendary career as a coach. During his 25 years as Stanford U's track coach, he also trained several US Olympic teams and served as meet director for the historic 1962 US-Soviet Union dual meet at Standard U.
At the age of 55 Jordan began running again, taking part in the growing Masters Athletics program. "Youth isn't the only vital thing in this world," he says. "Older people should be dynamic, too, because when we lose that, we lose a lot of the things that are very much a part of being alive in this big world of ours."
By 1982 Jordan had set over 26 age group world records. Never able to shake free from his other love, coaching, he has been responsible for coaching out of retirement a number of his own former Olympic students such as 400-hurdler Josh Culbreath and triple-jump champion Ira Davis.
In fact, a significant number of athletes at the Masters Olympics were taking part as a result of Jordan's encouragement. These included not only medal-winning champions such as Culbreath and Davis but also friends such as Dr. Bill Fairbank, age 65, a renowned physicist from Stanford U; and United Nations meditation leader Sri Chinmoy, age 52. Sri Chinmoy, a medal-winning sprinter during his youth in India, took part in the Olympic sprints and also conducted the Games' opening meditation.
Describing the gratitude Jordan's masters students feel for his training and encouragement, Sri Chinmoy told the champion, "Indeed, you are a river flowing continuously and carrying all those who want to swim towards the sea."
"Sometimes the world looks upon the first-place man as the only winner," Jordan replied. "I believe everybody who takes part is the winner.
"At 51, Josh Culbreath Takes to the Olympic Hurdles the Second Time Around." The New York Voice, Saturday, October 22, 1983.
"At age 51, 400-meter hurdler Josh Culbreath has triumphed over four major auto accidents and a bout with the bottle to win his second Olympic bronze medal.
Culbreath won his first bronze medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics: his second came at the recent 1983 World Masters Olympics, held in Puerto Rico. The Games were attended by over 2000 men and women from 47 countries and included over 20 former world Olympians.
'It's a miracle Josh is running at all,' said his former world Olympics coach, the current masters 100 meter world record holder Payton Jordan. 'He's walking around with a 3" metal tube in his lungs and 2" missing from his left hip that they took to repair a paralysis in his spine. He's a true champion in all ways!'
Culbreath himself tells of his steel-willed determination in over-coming the paralysis of his left side that saw him working endless hours relearning how to walk. Pain led to a bout with the bottle, and by the late 1970s he had ballooned from 145 pounds to 180 pounds. Then he read an article on Jordan's success in masters running...
'I solidly back the Masters competitions every chance I can,' Culbreath said. 'The competition gives encouragement, motivation and inspiration to the older runner. It gives longevity to their lives. It gives hope to the younger athletes, too; they see they'll have an avenue for competition as they get older.'
Sri Chinmoy, the masters athlete who conducted the opening meditation at the Olympics, supported and expanded on Culbreath's views. 'The Masters Games are most significant,' he said. 'Look how athletes such as Josh are helping and encouraging each other. Such joy they are both giving and receiving!
'These athletes,' he continued, 'have learned through years of often painful experience that true happiness comes from transcending their own previous limits, and this does not preclude helping others do their best as well...'