Meet June featured athlete, Bill Ziering (85, Carmel, Calif.), who will be racing for Team USA at the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Olympic-Distance World Championships in Chicago.
WTS Chicago: Did you participate in sports growing up?
Bill Ziering: Never was much of an athlete. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn when teams were being chosen, I’d be the last one in. Still the love for the game trumped my ineptitude.
WTS: Tell us about your triathlon journey.
BZ: Fast forward to my adult days in Fresno, California. In the early ‘80s, triathlons were coming alive. As a doc I was able to share in sponsoring some events. I literally was born again. Dusted off the ole Raleigh, found a pair of sneakers, and could kind of sort of halfway manage a backstroke in the pool.
Initially, I tried out at Clovis West High School, then the Millerton Dam graduating to Bass Lake. On moving to Monterey, I somehow made it through the stampede at the Fort Rod 50-meter pool, before hustling through their pistol range on the bike and run. Feeling my oats, I was introduced to the Davis’ Wildflower and later to their Triathlon at Pacific Grove. Fever ridden I’ve indiscriminately brought up the rear at Half Moon Bay, Pleasanton, Morgan Hill, the Nationals in Milwaukee, and for the Monterey Bay Club. All told I’ve probably completed about 35 events. With all that, I’d still be chosen last as a teammate, but what the heck, amazingly I still draw a hero’s round of applause from the sporting crowd on slipping through the finishing line.
Now, 75 years later the OGs from my 5th grade class at PS 189 should see me now. An invitation from ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago 2015 as a member of Team USA to represent the U.S. for the 85-89 age group. Dare I show up to compete with the likes of real athletes like the heralded Bob Scott and Sister Madonna Buder?
WTS: Representing Team USA and competing at Worlds is quite a feat. What crossed your mind when you received the invitation?
BZ: I consulted with trusted friends, “What does it take for me to make it happen in Chicago?” “A lot more than you got,” they shot back. True but like Don Quixote I enjoy tilting windmills.
Going on 86 the sands of time are running out, my rocking chair is being dusted off but for awhile longer I’m going to heed the remarks of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up” and Vince Lombardi, “The measure of what we are is what we do with what we have.”
WTS: What are you most looking forward to about competing in Chicago?
BZ: Year after year since graduating from Northwestern in 1956, capped off with resident training at Children’s Memorial Hospital, I’ve hankered to return to enjoy the most exciting years of my life. Now almost 60 years later at my twilight hour the dream is about to be realized.
Visiting the medical school, traipsing to Cook County Hospital, strolling down Michigan Avenue, planting a kiss on Buckingham Fountain and checking out the Maternity Center the Art Center and the Chicago Symphony, supping at Pizza Uno. ... To share with my wife Pam. All too good to be true. If I’m not careful, seriously, I might miss the count down to the swim for the Oly event.
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