Age is no barrier: 87-year-old “Pokey” Bill Ziering USA Triathlon Ambassador

by susan.perry@triathlon.org on 07 Nov, 2017 11:12 • Español
Age is no barrier: 87-year-old “Pokey” Bill Ziering USA Triathlon Ambassador

At the age of 87, ‘Pokey’ Bill Ziering was the oldest competitor to claim gold at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Rotterdam in the Men’s 85-89 Age Group. Stepping on top of the podium, for the second time since 2015, he now has another position to celebrate as he was recently selected as an ambassador for the USA Triathlon (USAT) programme.

High spirited and determined, this is the second time the American has secured such a race position, taking the title in 2015 at the Chicago Grand Final. Consisting of an Olympic distance triathlon, on both occasions he was the only person in the category 85-89 years old. With a superb sense of humor and a big smile, he went on to say: “I came in first and last”. The women are also representing in the higher age-bracket, with Elizabeth Brackett (USA) securing a gold medal at the age of 76 at this years’ Rotterdam Grand Final. 

Watching Bill race is incredibly inspirational, when asked how he does it, he said: “I have no pearls of wisdom to share regarding how I’ve been able to retain the ITU Age Group World Championship Olympic Division in the Men’s 85-89 Age Group title since Chicago in 2015. There is no formula. I just show up. Show up at the track once a week, the pool or open water every seven days, and bike with my buddies, fitness and friendship groups or my better half each week. I work at keeping up. There’s no finite goal other than hoping to go out for about an hour at an enjoyable pace and finish”.

A retired doctor and member of Triathlon Club of Monterey, Bill started the sport 40 years ago and confesses to not being much of an athlete in his younger days. “I can’t remember ever finishing in the top half but now I’ve managed to become the Age Group World Champion, ranked number one for the 85-89 Age Group”. Going on to quote his favorite saying, “start off slowly then ease up!”.

Now a USAT ambassador, the high-spirited triathlete is thrilled to be part of the programme that supports the sporting community and said “no one is dismissed because of supposed inabilities. The USAT will see to it that I spend less time in my well-worn rocking chair”.

The USAT goal is to strengthen the triathlon community by building strong relationships between the community, clubs, teams, coaches and athletes. In order to become a USAT ambassador, they need to have made an impression on their endurance communities and an impact in the sport of triathlon, which Bill thoroughly has! As an ambassador, Bill will promote the USAT events as well as triathlon as a sport for everyone, regardless of their age or fitness ability.

USA Triathlon said: “Bill has an incredible enthusiasm for the sport. His passion combined with his unique story of starting the sport in his late forties and still going strong almost 40 years later was exactly what we were looking for in an ambassador for this programme. Our goal for the programme is that ambassadors will serve as motivators and advocates of the triathlon lifestyle, and we feel confident that Bill will create a contagious excitement for triathlon through sharing his story with others in the community.”

For Bill being part of the ambassador programme means that “the USAT has discovered the fountain of youth. Wanna lengthen your telomeres and live ‘almost’ forever? Then join us and live a lot longer!”. He went on to say that “the USAT represents wellness, mindfulness and outdoor activity. You’ll collaborate with the most healthy, beautiful, resourceful, achieving, hard-working, humble, and faithful dear friends!”.

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