74-Year-Old Mark McCarthy Wins the Gold


74-Year-Old Mark McCarthy Wins the Gold

74-year-old Mark McCarthy proclaims victory after winning a gold medal in the 10k Cycling Time Trials. McCarthy found a passion for sports in the fourth grade, where he played soccer and wrestled.

“I think I was born to be an athlete, matter of fact I know I was, it’s in my genes, McCarthy said. I’m a huge believer in genetics affect you in so many ways.” He wrestled in college until age 24 and tried out for the Olympics in wrestling in 1972.

Unexpected Opportunities

Back in college, he used to play racquetball with the other wrestlers for fun. He was so good at racquetball that someone convinced him to enter a tournament that he would eventually win. 

The sport of racketball began to gain notoriety in the mid-70s, so clubs began to form. McCarthy got hired as a pro and would become the number three player in the country, two weeks after joining.

One of his battles would be a blessing in disguise. He played against a player who was playing on behalf of Nike and Wilson and lost in a best-out-three series. The guy would approach him after the match with gratitude.

“He goes you can play in the pro tournament, tomorrow I’m going to fax you a contract with Nike and Wilson, then we’re going to fly you to Vermont for a semi pro tournament,” McCarthy said.

Unfortunate Injuries

McCarthy would fly to Vermont and win the tournament. He would go on a racquetball tour for six years, making money until he tore his shoulder. 

That wasn’t his only problem, from playing so much racketball he would end up having hip surgery. His doctor told him not to play racketball anymore.

“Please don’t run, don’t play tennis, don’t play racketball, don’t play squash, the doctor said. You can either swim or you can bike.”

McCarthy hated swimming, so he got into cycling at age 53 and would win his first state championship at 56. He’s been cycling for about 20 years since then and has racked up many accolades.

Photo Credit: Tori Krout

In the pros, Group A was an advanced cyclist and Group B was for upcoming or subpar cyclists.

When he first started, McCarthy was with Group B, where he would finish in the back of races. He wasn’t discouraged by that and kept pushing to be the best. He began winning races and would eventually get promoted to Group A. 

Through his involvement in racing, McCarthy believes he’s evolved physically. 

“Even though I’m 74 people look at me and say you’re 74?” McCarthy said.

McCarthy described the 10k trial as a race with many hills, his specialty. A 10k race is about 6.2 miles. He has won 15+ national world titles in cycling. His plans this year are to come back and win big time after someone cut him off in a race that led to him shattering his hip and having hip surgery four years ago. 

Coaching the next athletes

Besides being a cyclist, McCarthy is a coach and teaches young athletes sports such as racquetball, wrestling, and tennis. He takes pride in being a father figure to his students and coaching them on and off the court. He has three kids of his own and enjoys being a father.

Featured Photo Credit: Tori Krout

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