85-year-old Sask. man smashes decathlon world record

An 85-year-old Saskatchewan man has broken his age group's world record in track and field's toughest event - the decathlon.

Ted Rowan among Canadians at World Masters Athletics Championships in Spain

Martensville's Ted Rowan, 85, smashed the world decathlon record for his age at a competition in Spain this week. (Peter Mills/CBC)

​An 85-year-old Saskatchewan man has broken a world record in track and field's toughest event - the decathlon.

Ted Rowan spent the past two days hurdling, pole vaulting and throwing a javelin at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain.

He dominated the 10-event decathlon in the 85-year-old and up category. The Martensville man didn't just win — he smashed the world record for his age with a haul of more than 7,000 points. His performances included a 100-metre sprint in 16 seconds.

Ted Rowan, with wife Barb Parney, won the gold medal this week in the decathlon at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Spain. (submitted)

"I'm just elated. I'm ecstatic. It's so fabulous. He had so many events to handle and manage. That's the incredible thing, isn't it?" his daughter-in-law Marilyn Parney said from her Saskatoon home.

Parney said Rowan wasn't sure if he'd be able to compete in Spain. He injured a groin muscle last month while smashing the world pentathlon record at the Canadian championships in Vancouver.

But Parney, a practicioner of a body balancing technique called jin shin jyutsu, helped Rowan heal in time.

Rowan, a former boxer, didn't take up track and field until his 70s after retiring from his job as an accountant. The father of three and grandfather and great-grandfather to several others broke his leg at age 75 during a pole vault practice. He worked had to rehabilitate the leg and was back competing soon after.

Ted Rowan has everything he needs to practice high jump in his basement. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

He practices with a local masters club in Saskatoon, but also has a makeshift high jump mat and bar set up in his basement. He travels to Parney's acreage periodically where there's ample space to practice discus and other throwing events.

"He's very methodical. He knows what he's doing," she said.

Other top Saskatchewan athletes in Spain are also expected join grace the podium during the 10-day competition, including record-breaking sprinters Amanda Stalwick of Saskatoon and Carol Lafayette-Boyd of Regina.

Rowan can add to his medal haul this week as he competes in several other individual events.
Parney said Rowan is showing no signs of slowing down or losing his motivation.

"Knowing Ted, he will be setting his sights on the 90-year-old category," she said.

About the Author

Jason Warick


Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.