Rachel Laing: Never to late to start Athletics!

By Ricky ISRAEL          SportsTok MAgazine Online

Age is certainly not a hurdle when it comes to one’s love and zeal in playing sports. Some may think that at the age of 40, 50 or 60, it is impossible for athletes to train and compete in sports because of the wearing down of an athlete’s abilities and physiques.

This is certainly not the case for Rachel Laing, an all-rounder in the codes of touch football, soccer, netball and now athletics. At the age of 60, her love of playing sports and competing is still ablaze as she set to make her mark in Athletics (Women’s 60+ Category) at the deferred 2021 World Masters Games, which will be stage at Kansai City of Japan, May of 2022.

Rachel Laing is taking her chances as she is set to make her third appearances at the World Masters Games but this time flying solo in the code of Athletics. The Grandmother of nine from the beautiful atolls of the Fergusson Island of the Milne Bay, first made her debut at the Masters in the team sport of touch football and soccer back at the 1994 Brisbane Games.

Her switched from soccer and touch football to athletics was in October 2020 when she found out that Touch Football was omitted from the 2021 Games. This gave her the opportunity to decide what other codes she would compete in. She always wanted to compete in athletics and decided to meet up with former PNG Sprint sensation, Coach and founder of NEST Athletics club, Nelson Stone.

Coach Stone took her under his wings and began to train and mentored her since then. The transition from a low intensity training to a high intensity training has not been easy for the 60 year old.

She admitted, “The first couple of training sessions were the hardest, considered my age and the new code I am training in.  I brushed my ligament and my body was sore all over. There wasn’t a moment I thought of quitting. I would go home to ice my brushes and showed up for trainings in pain the next day.”

She trained with Stone for two months and ran her first race in the 100m Women’s Open at the 2020 National Championship in Port Moresby, recorded a time 14.91 seconds.

Heading into the 2021 Air PNG National Track and Field Championship in Kimbe for her second race, she had no expectations but to beat her personal best. She knew that she was up against some of the biggest names in PNG Athletic, in likes of Pacific Sprint Queen Toea Wisil and more younger and experienced sprinters.

She impressed everyone with her performance in the 100m, as she clocked in a personal best of 13.7 seconds from last year’s 14.91, a 1.21 seconds faster than her previous. In the 200m she recorded 29.7 seconds.