They say that age is a just a number - and a Tameside runner has proven just that after securing two gold medals at a prestigious event.
Mike Coogan, 46, scooped two golds while representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Indoor Masters Championships in Torun, Poland.
Despite being up against some well-known faces, including Francis Obikwelu, who won a silver in the 100m at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Mike took the plaudits after finishing first in the 200m event, before helping his team-mates to gold in the sprint relay.
The World Masters Athletics Championships are held every two years and are attended by more than 5,000 athletes from around the world. To maintain a level playing field athletes compete in five-year age bands from 35 onwards.
Mike competed in the m45 category, which includes athletes aged 45-50.
The East Cheshire Harrier said he was delighted with his performance - especially considering he only took up sprinting in his 40s.
He said: “I’ve not been doing athletics for long and originally got into it after running a few parkruns and speaking to a few of the lads from East Cheshire Harriers who invited me down to train with them.
“I spent a year or two doing long distance which I really enjoyed, but always harboured a desire to do sprints since being a kid. You imagine it’s passed you by when you reach your 40s, but when I heard about Masters Athletics and the opportunities to compete on the track against the best in the world in your age group, there was no stopping me.
“In my age group I had a talented American Jeff Laynes who has run sub 10s in the past and Chilean Sebastien Keitel who ran sub 20s as a senior in the 1990s beating Olympic Gold medallist Donovan Bailey in the process.
“I was very pleased to win gold in the 200m and we also won gold in the sprint relay, I was on the final leg with my team-mates Ciaran Harvey, Rich Rubenis and Jason Carty, beating the USA by over 30m, which was nice. I’ve now finished the 2018 and 2019 seasons ranked fastest in the world over 200m.”
Mike returns to Tameside having become a double world champion and is now focused on his summer training.
With the weather set to improve over the next few months, Mike will be swapping his indoor track schedule with regular sessions at East Cheshire.
He added: “I train with Geoff Hurst at East Cheshire during the summer and in the winter I migrate across to the indoor track at Sportcity, in between I also sprint lots of hills around Mossley where I live.
“We’re trying to raise funds for new floodlighting at East Cheshire which will help out a lot during the winter especially, it’s a great club and everybody has done really well and there’s still more money to be raised.”
Given Mike’s passion for running, will he be seen at the Tour of Tameside start-line in five weeks’ time?
“I won’t be doing the Tour of Tameside unfortunately as it’s way too long for me,” he said.
“I do miss it, but my only involvement with long distance running these days is reduced to holding the coats on a Saturday morning at parkrun, or occasionally doing the timekeeping.”