Multi-talented masters athlete Darrin Norwood is preparing for the Pan Pacific Games after his incredible success.
Multi-talented masters athlete Darrin Norwood is preparing for the Pan Pacific Games after his incredible success. Rob Williams

Athletics swap master stroke

BEING named in Ipswich's Aussie rules team of the decade in 2010 was a fitting reward for Darrin Norwood.

He had been one of the Eagles' best centres since 1995.

However, knee surgery in 2009 and last year cut short his successful football career.

Although helping out the Eagles for their past two Reserve grade matches, Norwood accepts that Aussie rules is a week-by-week - rather than season-by-season - proposition these days.

Swelling problems in his left knee make it difficult to handle the intensity of Aussie rules.

However, Norwood has found another challenging sport to conquer.

Through masters athletics, the 32-year-old can manage his knee issues better and enjoy sport at national and international level.

That was highlighted by his medal blitz at the Australian Masters Championships this year and last year.

At his first competition, the Lifestyle Health Club manager won an incredible 13 gold medals from 22 energy-sapping events over four days in Brisbane.

His events ranged from discus and javelin to high jump, pole vault and sprinting, as well as a separate pentathlon competition.

This year, Norwood again dominated the national 30-34 years competition in Melbourne, completing 17 of his 23 events before returning home to work.

He won five gold, five silver and one bronze over three days, recording personal bests in shot put and the 60m sprint.

"This is probably my best year in track and field for a long time," said Norwood, who'd competed in athletics before playing Aussie rules.

His selection in the Queensland masters team - and amazing medal marathon - has secured Norwood the 2011-12 City of Ipswich-Queensland Times senior sport star award for May.

The prestigious awards are backed by Ipswich City Council.

Since his latest nationals success Norwood has enjoyed time off, before refocusing on his next major goal - another big program at the Pan Pacific Games on the Gold Coast in November.

"The last one (national championships) took me a good week to get over," said Norwood, who turns 33 in two weeks.

"I've had a break and just been doing a lot of pre-season running and training. It's just good to relax and let the body recover."

After the Pan Pac championships he'll prepare for state and national championships next year.

Raceview-based Norwood said one of the most enjoyable aspects of masters athletics was less pressure.

"You do the competition and it's more relaxed and comfortable," he said. "When you go to an open competition it's pretty much win at all cost. In masters it's a bit more laidback and more friendly."

Norwood said that helped improve his performance.

"I don't go into competition nervous any more," he said.

"That probably brings out better results."



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