If one were looking for a living advertisement for the benefits of sport, one could find no better example than Roger Bruck. After a competitive career spanning more than half a century, Bruck is still winning trophies and gold medals at age 74.
Earlier this month Bruck was presented with the Norman Martin Trophy for the best over-70 performance in the Southern Counties Veterans Championships. The award was specifically for his high jump, yet that event was only one of five disciplines for which Bruck won gold medals on the single day of the Championships.
Bruck’s athletic career began in 1949 with a victory in the Hendon Primary Schools Championships. He only resumed competition in his final year at Grammar School, with victory in the Middlesex 100 yards championship in 1957. Then in 1959 Bruck joined Shaftesbury Harriers and that year won the first of 13 successive club sprint titles. Bruck represented Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Southern Counties during his senior career and held the Shaftesbury Harriers 100 yards and 100m club records.
Also in 1959, Bruck won his first European Maccabiah gold medal, in the 4x100m relay. Four years later at the next European Maccabiah, Bruck again won gold as part of the relay squad, and struck individual gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m. Bruck’s first World Maccabiah, in 1961, turned him into a Zionist. "Seeing Jewish policemen and Hebrew road signs, and meeting Jews from all over the world, all gave me a love of Israel,” he recalled.
"In the 4x100m relay, USA were the overwhelming favourites. Their squad was trained by US Olympic team coach Payton Jordan and it included Gerry Ashworth, who set a world record that year. Against all odds GB won, in what was the most memorable race of my career.” Bruck served as GB Track & Field manager in the Maccabiahs of 1993 and 1997, and on the latter occasion won another gold medal in the Coaches’ 100m race.
In 1979 Bruck joined Barnet and District Athletic Club and began his Masters career. In 1995 he was persuaded to try out the jump events in order to gain points for his club. His success was such that he went on to win nine national titles for long jump, high jump and pentathlon, and to represent GB in five World and European Masters Championships.
Bruck reflected: "I would recommend any youngster to try out athletics, and would advise him or her to join a club and get a coach. I have loved the camaraderie in the sport, and there are people I have been running with for 50 years.
"I train three or four times a week, and my sessions are built around short sprint repetitions with quick recovery intervals. I have been very lucky not to have suffered too many injuries in my career. But I couldn’t have kept it up without all the support of my wife, Judy. I went training on the morning of my wedding, but I think she has forgiven me by now. In August, we will have been married for 50 years."