Nick Koplos, late-blooming distance runner
About 18 years ago, after back surgery, Nick Koplos of Sun City was advised to quit running to preserve his body. He took the advice for a while but eventually started distance running again in 2007, when his son started running. Family interaction won out over a doctor’s advice.
Now his new running career is flourishing. On July 26, it peaked with three distance-running gold medals at the Six-County Senior Olympics at Maine East High School. When he won three golds in the 400, 800, and three-mile events, he “came home” to the high school where he graduated in 1954. He was the lone Sun Citian entered in the Olympics’ track and field competition, and he won three of the five races he entered.
He is married to Joanie Koplos, one of the medal-winning members of the 2012 Sun City swimming Sting Rays that dominated their sport in these Six-County games. (See related story.)
“When I was a senior at Maine Township High School, which it was called in the 1950s, I ran the mile in between long sessions of work on my family’s farm,” Koplos recalled. “But I did only occasional running during my 40-plus years as an excavation contractor in the Chicago area. Then, when one of my sons started to do a lot of running recently, I couldn’t resist getting back into it.”
He hung with up to eight competitors on the Maine East track in the Senior Olympics and fairly easily pulled away late to win his three long-distance races.
“I don’t have details of my times or the age group of my competitors; we just all ran together on the track in each race,” he said. “I do remember that I beat several guys who were considerably younger than I was.”
Koplos competed officially in the 75-79 age group.
“I tried running the 100- and 200-meter sprints this year, but I finished fourth, reminding me that I’m not a sprinter,” Koplos said.
Sun City athletes won gold medals in volleyball, swimming, and track and field this year and also won a bronze in softball. In all of these sports, Sun City residents are proving to be talented and dedicated and, in some cases, even dominating.
Could we bottle some of it and send it to the Cubs?