Recreation

Cedar Rapids' John Manning continues to take his shot (put)

Ogden column: 84-year-old likes working out on his own

John Manning, of Cedar Rapids, winding up to put the shot in the 2018 Winter Iowa Senior Games at the Augustana PepsiCo
John Manning, of Cedar Rapids, winding up to put the shot in the 2018 Winter Iowa Senior Games at the Augustana PepsiCo Center in Rock Island, is working toward his next competition, whenever that will be. (Quad City Times)

John Manning of Cedar Rapids loves track and field.

Well, let’s rephrase that. Manning loves field.

OK, more specifically, the 84-year-old loves putting the shot.

“That’s all I do,” he said.

He also loves the javelin, but that “bothers my arm.

“I would love to throw the javelin,” he said. “... if I see a javelin its so hard for me not to pick it up.”

He’s also messed around the discus “a little bit,” but Manning is a shot putter. Period.

“The shot went out a little better than the others,” he said with a laugh.

Manning is big on doing something — anything — to get your body moving. He read an article once about the effects on the human body when we don’t get up and move.

“I love throwing ... it’s gets me out there,” he said. “It’s not good for humans to sit around too much.”

Moving, he said, “pays off with good health.”

To call Manning a late bloomer would be an extreme understatement. He didn’t have a lot of opportunities to compete as a young man and, in high school, was too busy helping his family make ends meet.

He picked up the shot when he was 65, but “didn’t get serious about it until I was 78.”

He now owns age-group shot put records in five states — “every state I’ve competed in” — and has won national titles.

“It’s how I stay in shape,” he said.

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In these days of staying inside, or at least close to home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Manning has found solace in his passion.

“It’s one of those sports where you don’t need someone to catch at ball,” he said. “You can do it alone, which is what I like about it.”

He’s found an isolated shot put pad at Prairie High School where he’s been doing light workouts at least once a week.

“Nobody is ever around them,” he said.

He normally puts the shot three times a week, getting off more than 20 throws each time. He misses going to the gym. Because of the pandemic, workout facilities in Linn County — among other areas — are closed.

“I do pretty heavy lifting when I get in the gym,” he said. “Shot putting is kind of a strength-speed thing. Good form and speed at release.”

He has a great understanding of the event despite his late start and the fact he has never had a coach. He had a conversation once with a weight coach at Solon High School who offered to help, but Manning never followed up.

“I had to come up with my own steps,” he said. “In a way, it’s a little rewarding, but at the same time it’s a little frustrating.”

He’d like to get some tips from time to time, something he can tweak during a competition — if needed.

“I just kind of blunder along,” he said.

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Manning admits he generally doesn’t have a lot of competition in his age group. Once, he said he was the only competitor. That’s OK, however, when you are your toughest foe.

“I compete against myself,” he said. “When I do that, I’m halfway decent at it.”

But, he admits, “sometimes I get so disgusted I don’t even go over and pick up the medal.

“It’s disgusting when you let yourself down.”

Manning isn’t sure when his next competition will be. The Iowa Games, as of right now, still are scheduled.

In the meantime, he has another workout quest to keep him focused.

“I’m trying to get myself to walk,” he said. “I’ve never liked walking.”

He’s up to a mile.

“I’m working my way up to 5 miles,” he said.

Chances are he’ll master that, too, soon enough.

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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