Bronx-born Damien Leake, a graduate of New York’s Excessive College of Performing Arts, discovered fame in an extended appearing profession — films, TV, commercials and reside theater. He’s used to taking part in second fiddle, with elements in “Serpico,” “Demise Want” and “Apocalypse Now.”
However at Saturday’s LA Grand Prix skilled observe meet at UCLA, he set a world report and few exterior of Fb heard of it.
After all, Ryan Crouser shattering his personal world greatest within the shot put — breaking the 77-foot-barrier — would are likely to overshadow a 70-year-old man sprinting 100 meters in 12.55 seconds.
Nationally televised from UCLA’s Drake Stadium, the elite meet included males’s and ladies’s masters exhibitions. However NBC didn’t point out Leake’s gorgeous run.
In successful his 100, Leake lowered a world age-group normal for males 70-74 as soon as held by former Stanford and U.S. Olympic coach Payton Jordan and, since 2005 at 12.77, by Robert “Bobby” Whilden, who set relay information on the College of Texas.
Below age-grading — the system of evaluating the apples and oranges of various age group performances — Leake’s 12.55 (right into a 0.2 meters per second wind) is equal to a 20- to 30-year-old’s time of 9.87 seconds.
On Saturday, 21-year-old Ackeem Blake of Jamaica upset 2019 world champion Christian Coleman in 9.89 seconds.
“I believed I used to be succesful,” Leake mentioned. “I simply didn’t suppose I used to be in that good of form, to be trustworthy with you.”
The San Fernando Valley resident, who coaches younger lengthy jumpers when not appearing, wasn’t planning on competing till June and July.
However two weeks in the past he answered calls from Brenda Matthews, a fellow Southern California Striders membership member, and Jerry Bookin-Weiner, Maryland-based chairman of the U.S. Masters Observe & Subject Committee.
So he entered the race.
He was shocked by his time, which he anticipated to be perhaps 12.8, despite the fact that 5 years in the past he set his first world age-group report — clocking 12.31 as a 65-year-old.
What accounts for his potential to protect unnatural pace?
“I assume you’d say dwelling proper,” he mentioned. “I’ve by no means been a smoker. My consuming profession ended by the point I used to be 19, and I’ve a spouse [Audrey] who takes care of me.”
Given his efficiency, it’s additionally pure to ask: What did you run as a youth?
Therein lies a Shakeseperean story.
Leake ran in junior excessive, and was assured he’d be on the 1972 Munich Olympic staff after racing for Dewitt Clinton Excessive College, whose alumni embrace boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, Corridor of Fame basketball participant Nate Archibald and 6 Olympians.
However a junior excessive trainer steered Leake bypass Clinton, a college that additionally produced playwright Neil Simon, administrators George Cukor and Robert Altman and actors Judd Hirsch, Burt Lancaster and “Get Sensible” star Don Adams.
He steered Leake audition for the celebrated Excessive College of Performing Arts.
At first, Leake mentioned: “No, no, no — I’m going to Clinton Excessive College. That’s the job faculty. I’m going to the ’72 Video games and that was the plan.”
However then younger Leake was informed that if he auditioned, he’d get the remainder of the break day.
So he fortunately tried out.
Having heard his father learn Leake’s personal great-grandfather the works of the Bard of Avon — “My father from the time I used to be very younger may recite complete passages of Shakespeare’s performs” — Leake selected a Marc Antony speech from “Julius Caesar.”
“O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I’m meek and delicate with these butchers!” Leake carried out on the faculty made well-known by the Eighties TV sequence “Fame.”
Then he forgot concerning the audition.
“Two weeks later, my steerage counselor comes and says: ‘You bought in!’ And I mentioned: ‘Acquired into what?’ It had completely slipped my thoughts,” he mentioned sitting within the stands Saturday.
However Leake didn’t know find out how to act when, on the primary day as a freshman, he realized the varsity often known as PA had no observe staff — or every other sports activities groups.
“What do you imply no staff?” he recollects asking. So far as Leake was involved, that’s what highschool was for.
“I ended up staying as a result of my father … used reverse psychology on me and mentioned, ‘Hey, so when are they going to kick you out of that faculty?’ Kick me out? I’d need to go away however ended up staying the entire time,” he mentioned.
He landed his first job throughout his senior 12 months, “and I’ve been working just about since then” — aside from a stint within the Military.
Leake has carried out in regional theaters across the nation, in addition to on Broadway. His IMDB profile reveals scores of film and TV gigs.
He nonetheless acts “after they let me,” he says.
However his biggest ardour is teaching, particularly the lengthy leap along with his Leake’s Leapers.
He assists at Chaminade, a non-public Catholic prep faculty with two L.A. space campuses.
Although he’s planning on racing on the USATF Nationwide Masters Championships this summer season in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Nationwide Senior Video games in Pittsburgh, “the primary factor for me is: What are my youngsters doing? If I get quite a few youngsters going to the JOs (Junior Olympics) — that takes precedent.”
He’ll even have somebody critiquing his type.
Clubmate Matthews, in her early 70s, ran within the girls’s 100-meter exhibition Saturday gained by Santa Barbara’s Sue McDonald (who earlier this 12 months set W60 age-group world information within the 800 and 1500).
Matthews — daughter-in-law of the late 1948 Olympic lengthy leap champion Willie Steele out of San Diego State — appreciated Leake’s type.
“Oh my God. It was an attractive race,” Matthews informed Leake. “I mentioned: You had the proper begin, the best transition and an excellent end.”