TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s not a question you would ask many when first meeting them, “How old are you?” For Karlton Meadows age is just a number, but it’s also what makes his story unique.
At 49, he is training with hopes of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. His story doesn’t end there. Meadows is a veteran who served 20 years in the Navy.
“The Navy was an opportunity for semi-annual pseudo-Olympic Competitions,” Meadows joked, but acknowledged it was a tough road. “There was ups and downs that made me stronger.”
When he retired, he hit the ground running and headed straight for the track at the University of Tampa. While completing his degree, Meadows competed alongside runners half his age on the track team.
In 2016, he failed to qualify for the Olympics in Rio.
“That was a low point for me,” Meadows said.
With one more 800-meter race on his calendar, Meadows decided not to give up just yet. He ended up taking home a medal in his age group at the USA Outdoor Track Championships and took it as a sign to continue pursuing his dream.
It was also then that he learned he was running on injured feet.
“I went to the podiatrist after the silver medal race and he asked me, ‘You realize you have fractures in both of your feet?’” Meadows said, laughing.
Meadows has since recovered. Now he has a new coach and is training almost every day with hopes of making it to the 2020 Olympics.
“I think it takes a dream first. You got to have a burning dream and then find the resources. It took me 18 years to finish a four-year degree, but I didn’t give up,” he said.
Meadows will learn if he qualifies on Feb. 28.