TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There are Florida Senior Games athletes who throw the Javelin, then there’s Michael Brown.
The former Jacksonville high school teacher and track and field coach can legitimately lay the claim of being the top Florida Senior Games and National Senior Games athlete in the sport.
Brown established the top javelin throw in the 28-year history of the Florida Senior Games on December 11, 2004, at The Villages High School with a throw of 226 feet. He repeated the exact same throw at the 2005 National Senior Games, In Pittsburgh, Pa., to set the overall top mark.
“I was helping out measuring on the field that day in The Villages,” said Florida Senior Games Track and Field Sport Director Tony Tussing. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a really long throw.’ You don’t even get throws like that in most collegiate meets. And this guy is 50 years old.”
No athlete has topped a javelin throw over 200 feet, in either event, since.
Putting Brown’s 2004 and 2005 accomplishments in perspective, the gold medal winner at the 2004 Olympic Games was 22-year old Andreas Thorkildsen, of Norway, with a throw of 283 feet, 9 inches. The top American throw, of the 2004 Olympics, was recorded by 27-year old Breaux Greer, at 243 feet, 11 inches.
Brown holds the Masters Track and Field World Record in the 55-59 age group with a throw of 216 feet 10 inches, established in 2010. He had a throw of 231 feet in 2005 at a meet in Clermont, which is the third-best javelin mark, in the 50-54 age group, and by any athlete over the age of 50.
With all of the accolades across a wide variety of competitions and age groups, Brown is an unassuming figure and blends in with ease wearing a flannel jacket to meets in months when the weather may be a bit chilly in the morning. He has an easy North Florida nature as he goes about his business at track meets.
After his record-setting performances of 2010, he went surfing with his nephew and started experiencing pain in his shoulder.
“It just ached from being overworked, not a sharp pain,” he said.
After an MRI, he underwent three shoulder surgeries, a rotator cuff surgery and finally a nerve transfer surgery from his elbow to shoulder.
“The first surgery didn’t go well, and neither did the second surgery,” Brown said. “Looking back, I wish I would have just done rehab. I took a chance, and it didn’t work.”
He didn’t throw a javelin for five years and admits he couldn’t even throw a tennis ball 30 feet during that time.
“I was told I would never throw the javelin again and that was all I needed,” Brown said. “I got really depressed sometimes. I’ve been throwing my whole life, whether it was sticks, rocks, baseballs or footballs.”
After two years of therapy every night, things began to progress for Florida’s top Senior Games javelin thrower. He completely missed out on the 60-64 age group during his time off the runway and he missed his fellow athletes.
“There’s just something about the camaraderie of the Games and the people,” he said. “Sure, I can go out fishing or play golf, but it doesn’t get the juices flowing like being out at the meet. When you get out on that runway, it’s time to perform.”
Brown returned to perform at the 2018 Florida Senior Games at Clearwater High School. He won the gold medal in the 65-69 age group to qualify for the 2019 National Senior Games. While the distance was not the same, with a throw of 134 feet, Brown’s form and approach to the throw was a sight to witness.
“I can no longer get the long pull, but I still have a quick arm,” Brown says of his current form and delivery.
At the National Senior Games at the University of New Mexico Track in Albuquerque, Brown won the gold medal with a throw of 150 feet, 8 inches, 13 feet better than the silver medalist. He was one of only six athletes to throw 150 feet or more and the other five were in age groups younger than Brown.
“He knows the technique and how to deliver,” said Tussing. “He no longer has the distance, but he can still throw that thing a long way.”
He competed in the 2020 Capital City Senior Games, on Saturday, March 7, in Tallahassee, and on what he called a bad day, had the top throw of all athletes at 143 feet, 11 inches. Oh, and it was the longest javelin throw in the 11-year history of the Capital City Senior Games.
“I usually have about 80 feet up of runup before the throw but where it was held there was only about 25 feet,” he said.
Now the Tallahassee Local Senior Games Qualifier can add itself to the list of events where Michael Brown has planted his spear.
About the Florida Senior Games presented by Humana
The Florida Senior Games presented by Humana are presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, and a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The Foundation works in conjunction with a variety of local sports industry partners to present the different competitions. The Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, an annual amateur sports tradition in Florida, is part of the state’s $57.4 billion sports industry that accounts for 580,000 jobs statewide.