CHESHIRE —At the age of 60, Kevin McGovern is still chasing down his dreams and achieving his ambitious goals.
McGovern, who graduated from Cheshire High School in 1976 as a track star, has not given up on the sport.
In fact, he is still in his prime. McGovern competed at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships on the campus of Iowa State University from July 11-14.
He left Iowa with two medals after finishing in second place in the pentathlon and in third place for the triple jump.
The pentathlon consists of one jumping event (long jump), two throwing events (javelin and discus), a sprint (200 meters) and a distance race (1,500 meters).
While McGovern was a bit “rusty” in throwing, he made up for it in the 1,500 meters with a first-place time of 5:30, which beat even Michael Janusey, who ended up finishing in first place overall for the pentathlon.
“I nearly lapped the entire field,” McGovern said. “Michael Janusey finished about a minute behind me and that scored me big points. I was in third place going into that last event and I was down by 600 points. I figured that was insurmountable, but I knew I could run a good 1,500 and I just got out there and ran by myself.”
When McGovern crossed the finish line with no one near him, he said he was overcome with emotion.
“It was surreal because I just don't see myself as being up there in that national level,” McGovern said. “I came into this all along just to have fun. Now, to find that I am at a serious level, I mean, I kind of just shake my head and it makes me feel pretty much like a kid.”
McGovern also competed in the USATF Masters Indoor Championships held in March. During that competition, McGovern said,t he was dealing with a hamstring injury, which caused him to forgo training for the outdoor championships for the rest of March.
He began to train in April, making increased flexibility and weight lifting the points of emphasis.
“Now that I am throwing, I really had to increase my upper-body strength,” McGovern said. “It is the same thing for sprinting. I found that the transition coming in as an endurance athlete to sprinting was very difficult. Because the movement is so much more violent and striking the ground hard verses, say, being on a bike or in the water, when you are moving violently there is no resistance.
“I found that the injuries are coming from the resistance against the ground,” McGovern added. “I have had to incorporate about a third of training to flexibility, like stretching and rolling. Sometimes it seems like you are not doing much, but you are preventing the injuries.”
In between training, McGovern made time for his love of art. When he was a high school track coach in 1994, McGovern would wake up early to go for a run or a bike ride and come back to paint.
McGovern said he had several offers to run track in college, but he opted to chase his dream at the Art Institute in Boston.
However, he was able to stay in athletics as a high school track coach and eventually, as the track and field coach at Boston College from 2005-10.
In addition to illustrating children’s books for Irene Smalls, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, he was able to combine his interests for painting and sports while he was a coach.
McGovern would gift portraits to athletes who had stellar seasons at the end of the year at the team banquet. He even made some money out of it by doing murals for Boston College’s Athletic Department, including men’s hockey coach Jerry York.
“I’ve been fortunate that, through my connection to Boston College, I was able to make some money from my paintings,” McGovern said. “I would also do murals for them at the stadium and around places in their sports complex, and then doing the men’s hockey captains for 17 years.
“I have been able to do portraits of many people involved in sports through one connection or another to Boston College.”
While he didn’t paint any portraits at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships this year, he said he hopes to in the future.
When it comes to this year’s competition, McGovern couldn’t have painted it any better.
“It’s not like I’m going up against anyone who is a slouch,” McGovern said. “These are guys who were former NCAA All-Americans and have been in this for quite some time. I just stepped back into it and I feel really rusty. But when I get back together, I feel like I can be pretty good in this.”