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Masters athletes in town for U.S. meet

Five Olympians, more than 40 New Mexicans and nearly 800 athletes in all will descend upon the Albuquerque Convention Center this weekend to compete in the USA Track & Field National Masters Indoor Championships.

Athletes will range in age from 30 to as old as they can still go. They’ll include Chaunte Lowe, 32, who competed in the 2012 Olympics and is the current open U.S. record high jumper (6 feet, 7½ inches).

And the oldest is Reverend Champion Goldy, a sprinter who turned 99 a month ago.

The oldest female will be Sumi Onodera-Leonard, 87, and a U.S. Masters Hall of Fame sprinter.

The oldest Olympian expected is weight-thrower Ed Burke, 76, who carried the U.S. flag into the Los Angeles Coliseum at the start of the 1984 Olympics. He made the U.S. team and competed in the 1964 and 1968 Games in addition to Los Angeles.

Among the top New Mexicans are three New Mexico Track Club standouts: Lisa Valle, 49, of Albuquerque, who won the 2009 world outdoor title in the 800 and 1,500 meters; middle-distance ace Paul Fragua, 59, of Albuqeurque, and pentathlete-turned 400- and 800-meter runner David Salazar, 65, of Cedar Crest.

And there is Paul Economides, 70, who holds the world record in throws pentathlon and the U.S. mark in the discus for males 65.

Three of the “Fab Four” female master sprinters – Irene Obera, Kathy Bergen, and Renee Shepherd (formerly Renee Henderson) are in town.

With Phil Raschker, the quartet holds 63 percent of the age-group records in the 60 and 200 (indoors) and 100 and 200 (outdoors).

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