Imrich Kiraly brought back four medals – two golds, two silvers – from the recent Canadian masters track-and-field championships in Toronto, where he competed in throwing events.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
Having returned from his latest competition – the masters track-and-field nationals, where he had won four medals – and already looking ahead to his next meet, Imrich Kiraly was asked what keeps him going.
Kiraly turns 68 this month and yet he continues to train and compete. Why?
“It’s a habit,” he said, laughing. “And also trying to stay in shape, I enjoy it.”
Kiraly is a former decathlete (who in his prime, in the early 1970s, was one of the very best in Canada), but his focus these days is on throwing events.
At this summer’s Canadian masters track-and-field championships in Toronto, Kiraly was triumphant in the hammer throw and 20-pound weight throw and won silver in the discus and shot put.
He said he was pleased with his performances and was turning his attention to his next challenge: a throwing pentathlon in Moncton at the end of the month.
Indeed, New Brunswick figures prominently in Kiraly’s athletic life, given that he is affiliated with a track-and-field club in Saint John.
“There’s nothing in Nova Scotia,” he said, explaining how he became involved in the Saint John club. (He notes that he already had a connection with Saint John because his wife is from there.)
He goes to Saint John for meets, he says, and although he is self-coached, he says it’s good to have someone watch him in action from time to time, someone who perhaps can point out things he could or should work on.
“The hammer I just picked up, really, a couple of years ago,” he said. “I had never (thrown) that before and it’s a very technical thing. You have to really work, but I find it challenging.”
For those who might be interested in athletics but think they’re too old, he says it’s never too late to start.
Kiraly’s involvement in track and field began over 50 years ago when he was living in Czechoslovakia. He started out as a jumper and did his first decathlon when he was 18.
He came to Canada in 1969 and for two straight years – 1970 and ’71 – he placed third in the decathlon at the Canadian track-and-field championships.
He had major back surgery at 27 and quit track for about a decade, returning to the sport to compete in masters events.
Asked about his approach to the sport, he says he still wants to do well and test himself but tries to take a sensible approach and not be too serious about it.
“I still like the competition and that motivates me to train harder,” he said.