Track athlete Larry Johnston, 67, with medals he recently won. (submitted photo)

Fleet-footed Surrey senior makes dream come true on the track

Sprinter Larry Johnston, retired from a local bus company, now runs for gold medals at Senior Games

By Mary Ruth Amundson, contributor

Surrey resident Larry Johnston is following his dreams with a healthy dose of dedication, perseverance and hard work.

His recent performances in competitive 100- and 200-metre races (in the Men’s 65-69 age bracket) have been astounding. In February, he won four medals at the Senior Olympic Games in both California (two gold) and Arizona (two silver), and earned another two gold medals at the Arizona Senior Olympics in 2017.

Johnston also recently won several Senior Games events in B.C., including a gold medal in the Mixed 4×100 Relay, silver in the Men’s 4×100 relay, two bronze in long jump and one in triple jump.

Johnston, 67, who is retired from his job as service manager with Coast Mountain Bus Company, recently rediscovered a love of track and field.

Many years ago, in school, Johnston was involved in track and field. He was a fast runner who, at age 15, won his last race entered as a teenager.

In his mid-50s, he met the head of the B.C. Senior Games, and decided that when he turned 65, he would “see what I could do” on the track.

So, close to two years ago, track and field became his focus again, and Johnston discovered the Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club located in Surrey.

The club provides great camaraderie and assistance, Johnston said, and the other members help him to stay motivated, healthy and active – they’re also “a great group of people.”

When he got involved, Johnston had many hours of training and hard work ahead of him. The workouts, both then and now, consist of two-and-a-half hours hours of warm-up exercises, jogging and a series of sprints three days a week.

Along the way, Johnston lost 40 pounds. He takes it a little easier while vacationing in Arizona, working out only two days a week, but he still aims to follow the training schedule the Greyhound club sends out weekly, so he doesn’t fall behind in his regime.

Bonnie, Larry’s wife of 45 years, provides her husband with unconditional support.

“I told Larry that I would never stop him from doing anything that he really wanted to do in life,” Bonnie says.

“It is extremely important for people to follow their dreams,” she added.

Johnston says it was a “dream” to win a gold medal in the Senior Olympics, and extremely satisfying to be able to accomplish this so soon after he became serious about track and field.

His next goals include running the 100-metre dash in 14 seconds, which is more than one second faster than his current record. Johnston admits he has his work cut out for him. But, if and when he accomplishes this goal, he plans to still compete in the B.C. Senior games, where Bonnie also hopes to enter competition events.

Larry continues his interest in other activities, including tennis (he currently plays three times a week), travel, music and spending time with Bonnie, the love of his life. Involvement with grandkids, including their baseball and soccer games, is also a priority.

“Best thing we ever did was retire,” Johnston said.

Johnston is truly an inspiration. His overall health, happiness and accomplishments are evidence of the many benefits of continuing to grow, achieve and reach for goals and dreams – especially as those candles increase each year. Develop a pastime, find a club with similar interests or resurrect a long-forgotten dream. You may discover a passion that is just waiting discovery.

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