Battle Ground’s Janice Bradley, 80, wins two gold medals at nationals
Janice Bradley started her track and field career 15 years ago. She has 20 more to reach her goal.
“I’m looking forward to doing the 100-meter dash when I’m 100,” Bradley said.
No need to do the math. Bradley is proud to say she is 80.
“I don’t mind people asking my age, especially since I’m in a different age group this year. That puts me at the bottom of the age group.”
And atop many of the leaderboards.
A couple weeks ago, Bradley won nine events at the Washington State Senior Games in Tumwater. Last week, she earned six medals in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Spokane, including two gold medals, in the 80-84 age group.
Bradley, who has lived in Battle Ground since 1977, is proof that it is never too late to become an athlete.
Always athletic growing up in Illinois, she never competed in any organized sport. This was long before Title IX, long before women had so many opportunities in sports.
She was inspired by her children.
“Watching them play all the different sports, I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
At 45, Bradley joined a soccer team.
At 65, she saw a story highlighting senior games for track and field. She decided to try something new. Apparently, she said, she was a natural.
Bradley found a coach in Olympia and joined the “Diehards Track and Field Club.”
She was asked to throw the discus.
“I didn’t even know I could hold it,” she recalled.
After a brief primer on the basic form, she let one fly.
“Oh, I think you can make nationals,” she remembers her coach saying that day.
Now, she is a throws expert. Of her nine state titles, six were throwing events — discus, javelin, football, softball, hammer, and weight. (She also sprinted to titles in the the 50 and 100, and soared to the high jump title.)
“I won them all for my age group,” she says emphatically. “No way I can compete with someone 50 years old.”
This weekend, Janice will be in Seattle for the National Masters Throws Championships.
Bradley enjoys the social aspect of the sport, getting to know all the other athletes. Competing also gives her and her husband of 53 years something else to share. Robert is an athlete, too, an accomplished squash player.
Janice always wears a crucifix during her competitions, too.
“I do it because it allows me to do the Lord’s work,” she said. “We’re the ones who can do it for Him.”
Of course, she also has fun competing, making up for a lot of years when she was not in organized sports. She celebrates birthdays because they make her one year closer to the next age group.
“Every time you change an age group, you’re going for a new personal record,” she said. “That’s what I strive for. I’m always competing against myself.”
Her track and field season is just about to conclude for 2018, but she says she will exercise daily to prepare for 2019. Competition keeps her going, in more ways than one.
“If you sit down to become a couch potato, you’re not going to live very long,” she said.