Encouraging a Passion for Athletics in Older Athletes

Kim Valente
Kim Valente – British Masters Champion 2018 in the women’s long jump

I recently won a gold medal in the British Masters Athletics Championships for women’s long jump, held at the Alexander Athletics Stadium, Birmingham 25 August 2018. I was born in Nassau Bahamas but have been a resident in the UK for the past 18 years.

I took up athletics again in 2016 after being out of the sport for 26 years. My passion for the sport began at the early age of 6 as a student at St. Anne’s Primary School, Nassau, which continued onto secondary school.

I am a member of Aldershot Farnham and District Club (AFD) and the Southern Counties Athletics Veteran Club in the UK. I train with the senior sprints team. By chance, I competed for the first time in long jump in April of this year in the Southern Athletics League (SAL) for AFD. A teammate of mine had pulled out of the event at the last minute and I was asked by our team manager to fill the spot. I was a bit unsure, because I never did long jump before not even as a young athlete and most of the athletes competing at the SAL are half my age. But I did it, not expecting great results. To my surprise, I came second that day and earned our team 7 points. I enjoyed it very much and that result gave me the confidence to do it again. I competed several more times at other track events. However, my greatest achievement was winning gold at the British Masters Championships.

I wanted to share my story in an effort to encourage older women to pursue their passion in the sport, regardless of their age. I am in my 40’s, married for 14 years and a mother of two children and I know it can be difficult for women to juggle family life, looking after the home and full/part-time work all at once. However, athletics has given me a boost and the confidence to know that I can pursue my goals and passion at my age and beyond. I feel that Masters Athletics (for athletes over 35 years) does not get enough recognition and maybe because we are older; but we must not be forgotten! There are many ways to get involved in the sport, whether you are a complete novice, relatively fit and perhaps have been doing the sport for a long time but not at a competitive level. You only need to join a registered athletics club and start training and competing in local events, at national and international competitions.

What’s next for me? The 2018 athletics season has now come to an end and I will be training extremely hard over the winter period in preparation for the 2019 indoor season which starts again in January. I also hope to compete at the European Masters Championships to be held in Torun, Poland 24-30 March 2019 and most importantly,  I hope to defend my title in the long jump next year at the 2019 British Masters Championships….

Kim Valente

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