At age 50, Willie Gault still burns up the track

We so often hear about former NFL players who are hobbling around on bad knees that it’s nice to occasionally see a story about a former player who moves almost as well in retirement as he did on the field.

Willie Gault, who played wide receiver for the Bears and Raiders in the 1980s and 1990s, is now 50 years old and still blazingly fast: He recently set world records in the 50-54 age group in both the 100-meter dash (10.88 seconds) and 200-meter dash (22.44 seconds).

As we noted in today’s one-liners, Gault hasn’t lost much speed from his playing days, and he attributes that to living the right way.

“I’ve always thought about what I want to accomplish and how I want my body to look,” Gault told the Daily Herald. “I eat right. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t do drugs. I know I’m only going to get one body. You can’t trade it in like a used car. I’ve always been very conscious of my body, and I treat my body right. I try to be stress free. I realize I’m never as great as my best day or as bad as my worst day. I don’t take anything too seriously, I laugh a lot and I play a lot. Acting like a kid sometimes helps keep me young.”

Gault says that his health goes beyond just working out and eating right, and is part of his whole life philosophy.

“Life is too short to have bitterness,” he said. “Don’t hold grudges; move on. You’re only here for a short time, even if you live to be 100.”

As good a player as he was on the football field, Gault says the sport he loves most is track.

“Track and field is the greatest sport in the world,” Gault said. “I think [track] is better than football as a pure sport. . . . Is football a great sport? Of course. I’ve done a lot of sports, but track and field is the greatest because it’s just you out there.”

The vast majority of people could never run a 100-meter dash in less than 11 seconds at any point in their lives, let alone after turning 50. But Gault says everyone can be in good shape late in life if they’re willing to work at it.

“I just never really stopped running,” Gault said. “It’s really easy to get out of shape, especially when you get older, and then it’s just way too hard to get back. People get discouraged because after a few weeks they’re not seeing great results, so they give up. I never want to get out of shape. I’ll do it 3-4 times a week until I die.”