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Originally published: 2013-07-06 17:21:40
Last modified: 2013-07-06 17:22:24

Clifford 'Masters' decathlon

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

CHARLOTTE -- John Clifford, a 70-year old retired English professor, won the National USATF Masters Decathlon championship for his age bracket in two days of competition on June 22-23.
Clifford, who still teaches part-time at UNC Wilmington, lives part-time in Mill's Ridge. Clifford, who has competed in Masters competitions since he was 40, usually participates in the five-event pentathlon and the 10-event decathlon.
It was his first championship in the decathlon.
Competitors are awarded points for each individual event in the decathlon. Clifford scored high in the long jump, the hurdles and in the high jump, where he leaped 4-feet, 6-inches and scored 813 points.
"I have strong events and weak events and average events," Clifford said. "I try to get at least 800 points in the strong events and maybe 300 to 500 points in the weakest events."
Clifford was comfortable in how he did in the first four events -- the 100-meter dash, the long jump, the shot put and the high jump.
The fifth event, the 400-meter dash, did not go so well for him.
He said the Charlotte heat got to him after participating in the first four events.
"It just didn't go well," he said.
Clifford did well in the hurdles and the discus on the second day, which also included the pole vault, the javelin and the 1,500-meter run.
"I did well in the shot put and the discus, which is what I wanted," Clifford said. "I'm 5-foot-9 and about 150 pounds, so I have to rely on speed for those events."
Clifford, who ran track for Xavarian High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently competed in competitions in Winston-Salem and in Landover, Md., in the spring. He would like to compete in the national competition in Lyon, France, but knows he'll have to improve his scores in his weaker events.
"I need to get more points in each event so, I know I can advance," Clifford said. "I'll have to get at least 600 points in each event and then rely on my three strong events for 800 points. If I can do that, then I'll go."