Michelle Rohl turned in an impressive performance at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, but a run of bad luck ensued and it followed her to the USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Greensboro.
At the world meet in Poland, Rohl, 57, won the 1,500 meters, the 3,000 meters and finished second in the 800. It went downhill from there.
“I came back from the worlds, and I had COVID,” Rohl said. “And my first race back from COVID, I fell and got a concussion. And then I had shin splints and then Achilles tendinitis.”
Greensboro was to be her revival, she said. At the very least, it would provide a chance for a reunion with her fellow competitors.
“Nothing went smoothly this outdoor season. So we already had our hotel rooms and everything and I wasn’t 100% sure how things would go, but at least I’ll be here and I’ll be able to see all my friends and cheer them on,” Rohl said.
People are also reading…
With just 650 meters to go in the 5,000 meters in the 55-59 age group on Thursday, Rohl’s right calf became painful. It was in the same leg where she suffered the Achilles tendinitis, quite literally adding insult to injury.
“I could just feel it happen. You could see it, too, because I really just ... couldn’t run on it,” she said.
Unable to run, Rohl, representing the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, adjusted and used her race-walking skills to finish the event, which she won because her lead was so substantial that no one was going to catch her, even if she was on one good leg. She turned in a time of 21 minutes, 9.97 seconds, finishing 62 seconds faster than Kris Huff of Atlanta Track Club.
According to Runners World, Rohl took up race walking in college after she had hurt her Achilles tendon. She didn’t quite qualify for the Olympics in the 1,500 meters, but University of Wisconsin-Parkside coach Mike DeWitt told her if she wanted to make the Games, she should try race walking. She became an Olympian three times, in the 10K walk in 1992 and 1996, and in the 20K walk in 2000, although she didn’t win a medal.
With one medal earned at the North Carolina A&T track, Rohl now has to ponder whether to pursue more medals during the championships, which run through Sunday. She had planned to run the 800 and 1,500 and quite possibly a relay. There also was a 5,000-meter walk to enter, but everything depends on how the calf responds to rest and treatment. If the pain doesn’t subside, Rohl may have to forgo the running for the walking.
“I entered the walk because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run by now or not,” she said. “At least, I’ll be able to race walk because it’s really kind of painful. So, we’ll just see. But I’m going to go to the starting line tomorrow and do the 5k race walk, see if I get through it.”
FIRST-DAY STANDINGS: Jeannie Rice, 75 and running unattached in the 75-79 age group, set a world record in the 5,000 with a 22:41.46 ... Kay Glenn, 70, another unattached athlete and competing in the pentathlon in the 70-74 age group, set a record by scoring 3,846 points, more than double the second-place finisher ... Atlanta Track Club took the lead for the team championship on Thursday, scoring 77 points. Potomac Valley Track Club is next at 35, and TNT International Racing Club is third at 27. Rounding out the top five are Greater Philadelphia TC (20) and GYS Track Club (19).