A man stood on the track, holding a javelin, like the men around him. But this man was different. The others were mostly boys. This was a man who’d been there. Who knew what to do and how to do it. A man who stayed on the track when rain started to rumble down, hoping not to break focus and trying to get one throw off before the competition had to be stopped.
His name is Nate Robinson, and he was hoping to etch his name in the record books and reach All-American status — two things he’d done before — on Saturday in the Northwest Express Track and Field Classic at Miramar’s Ansin Sports Complex. The only difference was that this time, he was trying to do so at 65 years old.
For a while, though, he had to wait. The rain became overpowering, forcing Robinson into a tent on the infield grass along with all the other javelin throwers. While waiting, he reminisced on how he ended up competing in track meets while being eligible for membership in AARP. It started in the late 1960s.
Back then, Robinson was a sophomore at Boca Raton High School when some of his friends told him to come run in a sophomore track meet. He did, and he kept running.
He eventually wound up at Miami-Dade College South, where he won a junior college national championship as a hurdler in 1973.
From there, he ran at the University of Texas and for several club teams. Today, he’s the head track coach at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach and throws rather than runs.
Along the way, he met Kristyn Yackey, 55, who sat with him under the tent. She’d just finished competing in her third-ever track meet, notching a personal record in the javelin throw.
“When you do your best,” she said, “you’re always excited.”
And she maintained that excitement when Robinson, her partner of 20 years who she met through a newspaper ad, prepared for his turn. His first mark, 33.19 meters, gave him the meet record for the 65-69 age group. But he wasn’t done.
He wanted to hit 35 meters, which would make him an All-American in his age group. His second-to-last throw landed less than a meter away.
“I’ve been al All-American in this for a while,” he told himself, “so I wanna keep it up.”
With Yackey watching, he reared back and splashed through the puddles toward the grass. He heaved and waited.
Finally, the announcement came: 35.41 meters.