Former Olympian still passionate about track at 92

A 12-year-old Bob Adams listened intently to the family radio as Jesse Owens took home four medals in track and field at the 1952 Olympics.

Bob Adams competed in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland

Bob Adams, now 92, in Regina at the Bob Adams Foundation and Saskatchewan Athletics Award Banquet which recognizes track and field athletes. (Photo submitted to CBC)

A 12-year-old Bob Adams listened intently to the family radio as Jesse Owens took home four medals in track and field at the 1936 Olympics.

That was the moment Adams knew he wanted to rock the track world too.

"I loved hockey and I loved baseball, but I think the running, and the jumping, and the throwing was more to my liking," said Bob Adams, 92-year-old former Olympic athlete.

He competed in the decathlon in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

On Saturday night, now 92-year-old Bob Adams was in Regina at the Bob Adams Foundation and Saskatchewan Athletics Award Banquet.

Small town kid with big dreams

Adams was born in the village of Alsask, Sask., located 450 kilometres northwest of Regina. He never competed in sports outside of the province during high school.

As a teenager he never imagined he would be competing in an Olympic decathlon alongside 25 other elite athletes.

The day his dreams came true in Helsinki, Finland, he was fatigued and injured. Adams said those factors stood in the way of a great performance. He didn't end up placing in top Olympic standings.

He did, however, win the inaugeral F.N.A. Rowell Trophy as Canada's Outstanding Field Athlete. 

The shoes shown were worn by Adams at the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952. (Photo submitted to CBC)

From athlete to coach

He attributes his versatility and coaching abilities to the decathlon's diverse and challenging nature. The event includes four runs, three jumps and three throws.

"I learned a lot as a result of having to do that," he said.

In 1955, after a devastating knee injury, Adams looked outside of the track lanes. He took to moulding track stars from the sidelines.

"Surgery in those days wasn't as corrective as it is today, so that's when I really started to do full-time coaching at the Saskatoon track club," he said, noting the transition from athlete to coach was easy for him.

"I've had a lot of wonderful opportunities, and it's an opportunity only if you take advantage of it, and I tried to take advantage of whatever came my way that looked like it was going to help me along the road."

The Bob Adams Foundation

He decided early in his career he would be involved with community activities rather than staying within the framework of his job.

"I made that choice, and I think it paid dividends and it gave me a chance to pay back," he said.

The Bob Adams Foundation and Saskatchewan Athletics Award Banquet took place on Saturday at the Conexus Arts Centre.

With files from CBC Radio's the Morning Edition