TICONDEROGA - Walt Thorne continues to defy age.
The Ticonderoga High School track coach won the gold medal in the master's division 400-meter run during track and field competition at the Empire State Games in Buffalo July 24.
The 69-year-old Thorne was clocked in 1 minute, 6.9 seconds. That time not only gave him the gold medal, but makes him one of very few runners in the world to run 400 meters faster than his age - 66.9 seconds at 69 years old.
"The goal is always to beat my age," Thorne said. "I did that by two seconds. If not for the wind, I probably would have done it by four seconds."
Thorne also won a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay and took silver medals in the 100 and 200-meter sprints. The winner in the 100 and 200 is four years younger than Thorne, who will turn age 70 on Aug. 6.
"I was pleased with the meet," he said. "I made some new friends and had some decent competition. It was a good experience."
Earlier in the competition, Thorne took a silver medal in the 100-meter dash. His time was 15.37 seconds.
Ticonderoga was well represented at this weekend's Empire State Games.
Six local athletes competed in the Olympic-style event in Buffalo.
Jon Granger of Putnam, a Ticonderoga High School athlete, won a bronze medal in the scholastic boys long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 3/4 inches and took a silver medal in the 4x100 scholastic relay.
Brothers Devin and Dustin Scott battled in the open division high jump during track and field competition. The former Ticonderoga High School athletes are now students at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
Dustin took fourth place, while Devin finished fifth in the Empire Games competition.
Thorne coached Granger and the Scott brothers at Ti High.
"I'm very pleased they did well," Thorne said. "It's a good feeling to see your athletes test themselves."
Marc Cooper of Ticonderoga won a gold medal in the masters division composite all-around archery event.
Jim Cunningham of Ti rode in the masters division of the cycling road race. Cunningham took fourth place in the 10-kilometer master's time trial with a time of 27:15.33.
Cunningham is an Empire State Games veteran, having won medals in canoeing. This is his first attempt at cycling.
This summer's event marked a return for the Empire State Games. It took a hiatus in 2009 for the first time after the state cut funding.
Thorne said the year off hurt the games. Participation was dramatically down from past years, he said.
"We probably had 60 competitors in all of track and field, all the age groups, men and women," Thorne said. "We didn't have to run a single semi (preliminary heat). All the races were finals, even the relays. The women's 400 only had one runner."
That didn't stop the athletes who did attend from enjoying the experience.
Athletes marched into the stadium for the opening ceremonies at the University at Buffalo Stadium and had an Olympic-style weekend.
The torch, representing the beginning of the games, was lit to lively cheers from the athletes on the field and an estimated 15,000 spectators in the stands.
First Niagara Financial Group donated $500,000 to help bring the Empire State Games back, and a coalition of other business and individuals raised an additional $600,000, according to the New York State Office of Parks & Recreation, whose offices oversee the program.