75-year-old John Ross on medal hunt in Utah

Athlete John Ross John is travelling to Utah to take part in the World Senior Athletic Games.  Picture: Neil Hanna
Athlete John Ross John is travelling to Utah to take part in the World Senior Athletic Games. Picture: Neil Hanna
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An Edinburgh-based athlete who has won more than 400 medals in an illustrious masters career this week heads off to America in search of more glory.

Now 75, John Ross, who resides in Canonmills, flies out to Utah tomorrow to take part in the Huntsman World Senior Games, representing Scotland.

Since 1987, the Huntsman World Senior Games has steadily grown to become the largest annual multi-sport event for people aged 50 and over in the world.

Between October 7 and 19, more than 10,000 competitors will take part in various events with John hoping to be involved in the javelin, 50 metres, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m.

John warmed up for the big event by winning three medals at the British Masters Athletics Federation Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham during September.

There he won gold medals in the javelin and the 400m plus a silver in the 200m, leaving him quietly confident as he heads across the Atlantic.

John said: “The event in Birmingham went well for me and it was good to come home with three more medals. I have had a bit of an injury of late which hampered my training a bit, but recently I have been out running in Inverleith Park and in the gym at Craiglockhart, and I am looking forward to heading abroad for another event.

“The Americans always put on the biggest masters events because they have the most competitors and they take it seriously, so to go there and come back with any medals would be a pretty good achievement.”

Born in Stockbridge back in 1938, John attended St Bernard’s Primary, Pennywell Primary and Ainslie Park High School. While at the latter, he became involved in school sports day and his love of athletics was born.

After school, at the age of 15, he joined Edinburgh Southern and, after a time delivering parcels, he joined the RAF.

While he was serving in the RAF, he competed at various different sports and later, while working at United Wireworks in Granton, where he remained for 32 years, he joined Edinburgh Athletic Club – who he still represents – and also had a short spell at Lothian Athletic Club.

John said: “I competed for many years in the British League, mainly in the javelin but also in other events, while I used to take part in a number of pentathlons and decathlons.

“As I moved into masters/veterans events, I still felt fit enough so just continued competing and it has kept going from there. I have been lucky enough to have travelled all over the world in recent years competing in various events of all sizes and met some great friends.

“Of course, I have managed to pick up a lot of medals over that time, too, and it is something I am pretty proud of. But as you get older, you wonder just how much longer you can keep competing.

“But if you enjoy it, there is no reason to stop.”

There are so many career highlights to date for John and he has fond memories of them all.

In 2004 he was named Scottish Masters Athlete of the Year and in 2006 he was the Lothian and Borders Police Sportsman of the Year. One highlight that also stands out for him is when, in 2007, he was able to compete in the US National Championships in Louisville, despite not being from the country.

That was because he impressed so much in the 2006 Huntsman World Senior Games that he became one of 16,500 competitors in Louisville, Kentucky.

He concludes: “That was an amazing experience and here’s hoping the next couple of weeks will be just as good.”