Even a painful foot injury wasn't enough to slow Masters sprinter Roger Pierce down.
The Essex resident won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2012 USA Masters National Indoor Track and Field Championships in Bloomington, Ind., last weekend.
The reigning 400-meter indoor national champion, Pierce successfully defended his title on the first day of the meet. The 67-year-old took off aggressively, and by the 200 meter mark had left the rest of the field behind by four seconds. He kept the lead the rest of the way and finished in 62.86 to beat Talib Salih of New York, who was fourth at the outdoor World Championships and a member of the winning USA 4x400 relay with Pierce in Sacramento last summer.
Pierce's best race was the 200 meter final on the last day of the event. He qualified for the finals by winning his semifinal heat by over two seconds. Stan Whitley, a former world champ from California, 65-year old Bruce Covey of Michigan and 66-year old Roger Assink of New Mexico provided the toughest challenges for Pierce.
Most of the men Pierce had raced against in taking bronze in the 60-meter event were in the field. Whitley had won that race in 8.19, with Pierce (8.29 seconds) right behind. He was nipped at the finish by both Whitley and Richard Parker with less than two feet separating the three men at the tape.
"The 200 was the toughest because it was at the end of the three-day meet and there were three national champions and two world record holders (Whitley and himself) in it," said Pierce. "It was a euphoric moment because of all the injuries I had had to endure, and I was very fortunate my foot felt remarkably good after going through four long months of pain. What saved me was being able to lift the whole time, because I still had the strength I needed.
"When the race was over, I was astonished what I had been able to accomplish. I was on my knees thanking God. I had missed the entire indoor season with the foot injury and was only able to start training and racing less than six weeks ago. It was a serious foot inflammation injury, and I finally got a cortisone shot last month."
At the start of the 400 Pierce once again took an early lead, and running in lane 5 was able to catch Covey next to him in lane 6. After passing Covey on the last turn with 80 meters to go, he was out in front for good and finished with a winning time of 27.36 seconds (to Covey's 27.58).
Pierce anchored the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams to gold medals as well. He is a multiple world and national champ in several sprint events over the past 27 years he has competed in Masters competition.
He has decided not to attend the worlds in Finland this summer because of the time he lost due to the foot injury, but will go to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia at the end of April to run two relays and the 100 meter. Pierce is also hoping to go to the Outdoor Nationals in Illinois this summer.
The indoor and outdoor sprint coach at Gordon College, Pierce remains busy with his musical career as well. He formed a Kingston Trio tribute group that played at the One World Coffee House in Essex recently, which was so popular that more shows are planned.