John Kahnert started heaving the 16-pound shot at age 15. By the Olympic Games of 1948, he had proved himself among the world's best, placing 13th for his native Argentina.
Now 63, Kahnert, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound athlete, still is adding medals to his collection. In today's age 60-64 shot-put event at the 11th annual Maryland Senior Olympics, being held at Towson State through tomorrow, Kahnert will try to win his seventh gold medal in as many years.
"My main objective is always to win," said Kahnert, a physical-education instructor at Catonsville Community College and a Lutherville resident. "Track and field will always be in me. Now, though, when I come back from a competition, my back hurts for the next 10 days."
Kahnert will be one of nearly 1,400 athletes, age 55 and older, competing in the three-day Olympic-style games, which feature more than 50 sports, including archery, basketball, bowling, tennis and track and field.
The games began yesterday with an Annapolis-to-Towson opening torch run and golf and cycling events. Contestants compete for gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place ribbons.
Kahnert won his first gold medal at the 1983 Senior Olympics, then went on to the National Senior Olympics in St. Louis, where he captured a bronze medal. Since then, he has gone to the nationals twice.
Kahnert hopes to qualify for the next national senior games -- the U.S. National Sports Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., to be held later this year.
Aside from practicing his shot-putting, Kahnert has been training for the novice one-mile walk.
"I hope people read about me or see me compete," said Kahnert. "I want to motivate them to do the same."