91-yr-old Ultra Throw champ, Scot Henney recounts his Perth World Masters experience

Photos in Perth taken by Scot's son Matthew

In 2016, 91-yr-old Ultra Throw champ, Scot Henney traveled to Perth to compete along with Dave McDonald and Frances Steinfeld from our club.  Scot won 5 of the 20 total medals for Canada at the Championships.  Gold for the weight throw and the weight pentathlon, silver for the hammer, and bronze for the shot put and the javelin (he placed 4th in the discus).

Here Scot gives an account of his experience, by first explaining how he got started in throwing:

In 2014, having been a track athlete in my youth, I began attending training sessions with the Greyhounds Athletic Club.  I had in mind the 100 metres running event but Harold Morioka, the President of the club and a former teacher at Charles Best put a javelin in my handand said “Throw it!”  I threw it.  “That’s a gold,” said Harold.  That was the beginning of my throwing career and in the next two seasons I achieved some success in the BC 55+ Games.  

Through the Greyhounds Club I met Dave McDonald who now coaches me in throwing, who later founded the Ultra Throw Club, of which I became a member.  Dave suggested that I might like to enter the World Masters Championships in Perth Australia in 2016.  At such a prestigious event I had no conception of achieving any success, however I had visited Perth 70 years before when in the Royal Navy and my ship had moored in Fremantle, the adjacent port city. The idea of revisiting the city was attractive and I entered for all the throwing events in my age category (90 to 94).  I was one of 4000 athletes from 90 different countries competing in the Games.

In Fremantle, four of us, Dave, myself, my son Matthew and my grand-daughter Gina, rented a beautiful old house for the two weeks of the Games. Dave and Matthew were the designated cooks and Gina and I enjoyed the results of their rivalry.  The climate in Western Australia was perfect and we enjoyed hot sunny days and cool evenings.  In the garden a lemon tree was dropping its fruit. Chopped lemons in water made a refreshing drink. A kukaburra called and seemed to respond when I answered its call.  Matthew and Gina walked to the beach and swam in the ocean.   

Matthew rented a car and drove us many times to the two major venues, each journey taking about half an hour.  When Matthew left with the rental car, the attendant gave him advice on driving on the left.  “Follow the bloke that’s in front of yer” he said. We often used the bus and train services which were frequent and free for us during the games.

I won gold and the title of World Champion in the Weights Throw.  Oh what joy to stand on the podium and hear the Canadian national anthem played.  No need to mouth the words -just stand erect to honour my country and to remember in particular, my father who trained me in track events and my brother Gordon who excelled in so many sports.

My second event is the hammer, throwing a twelve pound ball on a long metal lead.  Maurice Dauphinet is my major competitor.  I observe him in the preliminaries.  He is smaller than me, somewhat round-shouldered, and something about him brought to mind Popeye the Sailor man.  He was wiry for sure and he swiveled very easily on his toes.

I followed my plan of increasing effort through the practice throws, and made sure of one easy throw which would count.  I had a mark and tried for distance.  Out and back went the ball and then once round my head and I threw 8.49 metres, which was better than I had been doing in practice.

Maurice stepped up. One, two twirls around his head, his feet didn't move yet.  Then he pivoted about his feet. Away goes the ball.  17 metres is called, about twice the distance I threw.  I tell the official that I will not throw again.  Why risk an injury in a lost cause?

Maurice is gracious on the podium. Though born in France, Maurice competes for Australia. After he received the gold medal and I the silver, the Australian National anthem was played.  Maurice shook my hand and invited me to stand with him for photographs.  Maurice removed his cap and put in his dentures. My first impression had been corrected.

I gained bronze medals in Javelin and Shot Put.  Maurice was in the top medal positions of these events. Maurice confided to me that he doesn’t like the Weights Throw.  He did not compete in the Weights Throw or the Pentathlon. In his absence I won gold in both these events.

In the performance of the throwing events my age group was amalgamated with the next lower age group, 85 to 89.  In the numerous hours we spent together I became acquainted with about 15 athletes from 9 different countries.  Particularly memorable was Christian Tittel who competed for Australia, but was of European origin.   A big burly man in a floppy hat, Christian was the one who talked and joked with everyone, helping us all to feel at ease.  I was with him several times at medal ceremonies.  When he removed his hat and was serious he had the look and air of a magistrate. It was Christian who watched me stand alone on the podium for the Pentathlon medal and when everyone else had gone, it was he who came to the back of the podium and congratulated me.  It was a gesture I very much appreciated.

Impressions of Perth.  Perth to the north adjoins Fremantle to the south.  To the west is the ocean with many sandy beaches.  To the east the Swan River widens to accommodate ocean going ships.  A grade level rapid transit train line joins the two cities, rising to cross the river.  From high ground there are splendid views of Perth and the Swan River.

The people: unhurried, gracious and cosmopolitan.

The food, whether in super markets or restaurants is outstandingly good.

The beer: try a free tray of samples of a dozen different craft beers.  Then choosing one you don’t mind paying ten dollars for a pint.

Perth, a great place to visit.