Willie Gault would have run in the Moscow Olympics had the United States not boycotted the 1980 Games. But Gault, who also found fame as an NFL receiver, isn’t nursing bitterness.
He’s beating all-comers in sprint races.
Now 53, the former Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders star won the masters men’s 100-meter exhibition race Saturday at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays. He outlegged onetime Japanese national champion Hiroaki Akabori, 11.28 seconds to 11.59. Both broke the meet record in the event, which features sprinters over 40.
Akabori is 41.
Last week, TMZ raised eyebrows with a report that Gault considers himself faster than all but a few current professional footballers.
“When asked how he would stack up against some of the league’s current speed demons,” TMZ reported, “Willie says ‘Probably eight to 10 guys faster than me, Trindon Holliday, Chris Johnson of course.’”
What about All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson? “Nah, not him. I could get him,” Gault was quoted as saying.
Saturday, seconds after running a time that would have tied for third in the women’s elite 100, Gault said of his remarks: “It’s a possibility” that he could outsprint the vast majority of NFL stars.
Has anyone come out to challenge him?
“They have nothing to gain from it,” Gault said. “Everything to lose.”
Gault, who said his Mt. SAC race was his first in two years, weighs about 173 now. He played pro football around 180, according to online references.
Three years ago, after turning 50, Gault set world age-group records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes — in 10.88 and 22.44, respectively.
Still training with elite sprinters under John Smith of HSI, Gault works out at West Los Angeles College and hopes to “run as much as possible” this season, mainly in Los Angeles. But he’s open to entering the USA Track & Field masters national championships in July at Wake Forest University in North Carolina if time allows.
At Mt. SAC, he said he expected more of a challenge from Akabori, who has an all-time 100 best of 10.37 (to Gault’s 9.80.)
“I wiped a little of the dust off,” he said of his comeback. “It felt pretty good.”
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