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Ralph Maxwell succeeds into his nineties

Ralph Maxwell is 91-years-old and making a name for himself in the World Masters series of track and field meets. Maxwell's most recent trip took him to Sacramento, Calif., for the M90 age bracket decathlon world record.

Ralph Maxwell is the patriarch of Perham sports stars.

At 91-years-old, Maxwell is a world and United States record holder in seven different track and field events in his age bracket.

At one point, in his late 80's, he held up to 18 U.S. and world records at one time.

Maxwell is participating in the World Masters Athletic Championships in Sacramento, Calif., where he will be the only plus-90 competitor in the decathlon.

"I'm the only one in the world who is entered in that event," Maxwell said.

The two-day, 10-event contest consists of the same Olympic decathlon events: the 100m dash, high jump, shot put, long jump, 400m run, 80m hurdles, discus, javelin, pole vault and 1500m run.

Maxwell has no shortage of confidence and heads to he world championships with lofty goals.

"I claim and have some basis for it that I am the most athletic 90-year-old in the world and I'm going to confirm it by winning the decathlon."

The World Masters meet is being held in the United States for the first time in 16 years. It features thousands of athletes from around the world.

Maxwell, a non-athlete, for most of his life, took up athletics in 1994 at the age of 74.

"I always tell everyone it was a combination of shame and disgust," he said.

Maxwell claims he had reached a point where he felt an inner resolve to do something and get going.

Maxwell sticks to a consisted workout every third day, 2-3 hours of vigorous training.

With age, stretching has become a key element in Maxwell's ability to not only stay healthy but overtly active for a man his age.

"It is vital to stretch 20-25 minutes for any age," he said.

With no fellow competitors at the World decathlon, Maxwell has one opponent in Sacramento: another world record.

Australia's Vic Younger currently holds the world decathlon record in Maxwell's M90 age bracket having accumulated 3,190 points at a 2003 meet in Brisbane, Australia.

"It's kind of an ego trip for me but what the heck," Maxwell said.

That ego trip comes a bit into play when discussing Younger's point total.

"I'm going to double it, really, if I don't break a leg."

With a dash of humor, of course, Maxwell has good reason to have an ego. He is doing things nearly everyone his age cannot and doing it with a healthy sense of humor and a lot of laughs.

This is the first time Maxwell will be competing in the decathlon. Having performed in 10 events in one day at past meets has Maxwell less than fazed by the 10-event competition.

"The two-day, ten-event should be a piece of cake," Maxwell noted in a National Masters News interview in June.

Maxwell's secrets to the fountain of youth are rather simple. A healthy diet, adequate sleep and remaining active mentally and physically are what he uses to wash down one vitamin in the morning.

In a drug-laden society where many people, especially, the elderly, are bombarded by marketing of some fantasy pill to cure any and all ills, while creating more, Maxwell is a shining example that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved with just a little effort and thought.

His wife Elizabeth probably helps a bit more than Maxwell is willing to admit.

"She's very supportive of me," he said.

The pair have been married for 64 years, have six kids, one of whom, daughter Jan Maxwell, recently starred with actress Bernadette Peters in "Follies," a musical that opened in Washington, D.C., and will be moving to Broadway.

The show officially opens Sept. 12 in New York.

Like his daughter, Maxwell will soon be changing stages when he continues his quest for world domination at the United States Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Berea, Ohio, near Cleveland.

There he will be participating in nine events over a three-day period.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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