What keeps Willie Gault running … and running … and running?


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(Willie Gault photos courtesy of Oakland Raiders)

Talk of Fame Network

Willie Gault should be in somebody’s Hall of Fame.

A star wide receiver for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders, he won a Super Bowl. He was a member of the 1980 summer Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games. He set an SEC record in the 110-meter high hurdles. He was part of a record-setting 4 x 100-meter relay team at the 1983 World Championships. He was a member of the 1988 winter Olympic team in Calgary, as an alternate on the two-man bobsled.

And now? Well, now at the age of 55, Willie Gault is king of the world … the world of track and field, that is. He recently set age-group records for the 100-(11.30 seconds) and 200-(23.24) meter dashes to become USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Week.

“I do it,” Gault said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “because I never stopped. I’ve always loved running. Running’s been a true sport. I have God-given ability. My mother ran track. My father was a pretty good athlete. So I got it inherently. I just love the competition part of it. And it’s something I can do until I die, really.

“I know of people who run until they’re 100. So I can do it hypothetically until I die. And I don’t have to rely on anyone else but myself. I mean, It’s not like I have to rely on the quarterback to throw me the ball or anything else. It’s just me against the clock.”

We caught up to Gault as he was completing a workout on the UCLA track. He trains with 440-yard dash record holder John Smith, “a legendary coach,” Gault said,”who’s coached people like Maurice Greene,  Ato Boldon and … Carmelita Jeter, who’s the second fastest woman in history (and three-time Olympic medalist).”

Gault trains with her. He also trains with Gil Roberts, a 200-and 400-meter star.

“There are about 14 of us,” he said. “Tyson Gay is out there. He trains with us. Allison Felix is out there. It’s a great atmosphere. And it makes for training and conditioning really well.”

Understood. But Gault is no 20-something. He’s at an age when most former players are at a desk or the next tee. So what gives? What pushes him to keep on … well, pushing?

“I’m on a tee, too,” said Gault. “I love golf. So whenever I get a chance to play, I play. I play in a lot of celebrity tournaments, and it’s really cool. It’s a great game to meet people and interact with people and build relationships.

(But) I think my driving force is I just love what I do. I love being in shape. I love what it feels like.  I love the young kids. It makes me young … And I love to beat the odds. People always say you can’t do something. I want to prove that you can.

“It’s one of those things like in football. I went out and I did my best. I was always in shape. I was always on time. I k new my plays. I made very (few) mistakes. And I led my team every year in Chicago for five years. We didn’t throw the ball that much, granted, but I led the team every year in catches and average per catch and everything else. So I think that goes for something.

“I played the game the way it was supposed to be played . I played hard. I gave it my all. I had nothing but fond memories. And it was very rewarding.”

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