Timeless Mr Spencer
Western Province Athletics Jurgen Spencer is all set for the ASA 50km Race Walking Championships & Inter-Provincial, in Cape Town, on Saturday. Here he is pictured in his club’s (Bellville Athletics Club) kit, at the Bellville Athletics Stadium, in Cape Town. Photo by Keagan Mitchell
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He may be getting older in age but Western Province Athletics (WPA) Jürgen Spencer is still on top of his game in the South African race walking circuit. The 78-year-old who immigrated to South Africa from Germany in 1972 will compete, in the 10km masters men’s 75-79 category, at the Athletics South Africa (ASA) 50km Race.
Walking Championships and Inter-Provincial, in Cape Town, on Saturday. Spencer from Table View, in Cape Town will be the eldest among a 25-member WPA team that includes: 10 male and 15 female athletes for the Championships. The ASA 50km Race Walking Championships & Inter-Provincial will see walkers from all ages line up in distances ranging from the grueling and challenging 50km race to the energetic and exciting 1km development race that was added to the competition in 2016. Spencer said he is delighted on having been selected for the Championships. “It is always a privilege to represent Western Province Athletics but to have stayed fit and healthy to compete at these Championships.
The plan is to be competitive but most importantly to enjoy myself,” he said. Spencer will come into the competition with bags of experience, having taken part in the
ASA 50km Race Walking Championships & Inter-Provincial since 2002 and holds 18 national records in the 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 75 age categories for 5 000m track, 10km, 20km and 30km road events. He has also taken part in 32 SA Masters Championships that includes: 61 gold, one silver and in his first attempt in 1986, one bronze medal at the SA Games, in Germiston, Johannesburg.
Spencer has also impressed on the international stage, where he won gold, in the 55-59 age category, in the 5 000m track race and 20km road race event, at the African Masters Championships, in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1996. It does not get any better, a year later he was crowned Champion in the 55-59 age category
in the 5 000m track race and 20km road events, clocking 23min52sec and 1hour45min16sec, at the World Masters Championships, in Durban, in 1997. “I am proud of what I have achieved but one of my main goals is to compete as an 80-year-old in 2020,” he said.
It came by somewhat of a surprise how Spencer who also coaches more than a dozen athletes at Bellville Athletics Club, in Cape Town found himself in the sport. Whilst working for a Uranium mine in Namibia, he was roped into race walking after one of the walker’s could not the Chamber of Mines competition in 1986. This was a two-day track and field meet where mine athletes in Namibia could compete in. Spencer went on to finish in fourth place in the 3000m walk and from there on he took a liking to the sport and never looked back since.
Written by Keagan Mitchell