Neal Maddox Plays a Long Game
“Every year I say this is my last year. This has been my last year for 3 or 4 years!”
Neal Maddox, at 40-years-old, is the oldest male competitor at West Regionals.
“The athletes get younger; I get older. We have teens going to regionals now because it’s all about recovery and the young ones can recover.”
Maddox, who drove to Del Mar in an RV and trailer with his fiance and three dogs, listed the particular challenges a Masters athlete faces competing at this level. He’s tired, his nutrition is off, and he’s nervous about injury and all the aches and pains a masters athlete feels after eight years competing.
“The hardest thing to swallow as you get older is I don’t have that same switch I used to have when I first started. All the gears are still great, but that switch just doesn’t always turn on.”
“What’s more impressive? A 20-year-old that can kill it or the 60 year-olds that can nail a rope climb? I’m more impressed with longevity than I am youth.”
But despite all those years of competition, Maddox pulled what he called a rookie move in Event 3.
He let the adrenaline get the best of him, and he didn’t follow the rep scheme he practiced back home. After failing on the handstand walks, Maddox took a minute down on his knees, talking himself into calming down and remembering how he trained for this. “I said, Neal, just relax. Just relax and do it like you’ve done it.”
At the top of his age group, Maddox closed day two in 26th, with his best finish at 10th in Event 4. He’s excited for day three and ready for Madison. But, at the end of the day what keeps him going is athleticism in the long haul.
“What’s more impressive?” Maddox asked. “A 20-year-old that can kill it or the 60-year-olds that can nail a rope climb? I’m more impressed with longevity than I am youth. Youth is always going to be youth. People want to see the freakishI want to see the longevity.”