With eyes on decathlon, Hull keeps on training


Elmer Hull says he gets tired, but he continues to follow his rigid, decade-old training schedule.

He runs for 1 1/2 hours on Edmondson High School's track and then works seven hours as a car salesman five days a week.

Except that Hull, 66, doesn't want to slow down. He wants more challenges.

"At first, I ran because it helped my back problem," Hull said. "Now, I am looking to qualify for the world decathlon. I'm just two years away from that goal and closing fast."

In his 11 years of competing in the Maryland Senior Olympics, Hull has won eight gold medals and set state records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter --es, 1,500-meter race walk, pole vault, standing long jump and high jump. In three of those events, Hull would have broken U.S. records if he had been at a nationwide meet.

This weekend at the state Senior Olympics at Towson State, Hull will be competing in nine events and looking to qualify for nationals in four of them.

Hull's premier events include pole vault, long jump, high jump and 1,500 walk. During practice, Hull has reached the Senior Olympic record in the high jump and is 10 seconds shy of the senior mark for the race walk.

Hull says he can win medals at this year's U.S. Senior Olympics in San Antonio. However, in his two trips to the national competition, Hull failed to win a medal.

"I guess I let my mind get to me and was a little gun-shy," Hull said. "I never got used to that whole system of preliminary and qualifying heats. I'm more focused now."

His biggest problem is finishing strong in short-distance races. After spending most of his career in road races, he still has not adjusted.

"People always try to catch me at the end, but I seem to hold them off," he said. "I always slow down in the last 100 yards of races because of not having my stamina. I've tried to work on that in practice, so I don't feel as tired in races."

From 1947 to 1955, Hull played football and baseball and competed in track and field while in the army.

After leaving the army, he moved to Baltimore. He said he began running again because it made his back feel better. He joined the Baltimore Road Runners in the 1970s, and that led to the Senior Olympics.

"I was running with this guy who said a man of my age should go out for the Senior Olympics," Hull said. "He said I should win three gold medals my first year."

He didn't. It wasn't until his third year that he picked up his gold medals.

Hull discovered that the harder he pressed, the more medals he won.

"Working and training is like having two jobs," he said. "You just have to go out and practice hard. I always feel tired about one time in every event, but I work at correcting that every day with hard work in practice. You have to be strong."


What: 1,700 Maryland residents 55 and older compete in 18 sports and 40 different events. The top two finishers in each event and competitors that meet qualifying standards will advance to the U.S. Senior Olympics in San Antonio in May 1995.

Where: Towson State University

When: A 40-minute opening ceremony begins tomorrow, 2 p.m. at Minnegan Stadium. Competition follows that day and runs through Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. each day.

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