What keeps Willie Gault running ... and running ... and running?

Willie Gault has traveled the world, won a Super Bowl and been a member of the U.S. summer and winter Olympic teams. But now? Now he's taking on the world in track and field.


(Willie Gault photos courtesy of Oakland Raiders)

Talk of Fame Network

Willie Gault should be in somebody’s Hall of Fame.

A star wide receiver for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders, he won a Super Bowl. He was a member of the 1980 summer Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games. He set an SEC record in the 110-meter high hurdles. He was part of a record-setting 4 x 100-meter relay team at the 1983 World Championships. He was a member of the 1988 winter Olympic team in Calgary, as an alternate on the two-man bobsled.

And now? Well, now at the age of 55, Willie Gault is king of the world … the world of track and field, that is. He recently set age-group records for the 100-(11.30 seconds) and 200-(23.24) meter dashes to become USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Week.

“I do it,” Gault said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “because I never stopped. I’ve always loved running. Running’s been a true sport. I have God-given ability. My mother ran track. My father was a pretty good athlete. So I got it inherently. I just love the competition part of it. And it’s something I can do until I die, really.

“I know of people who run until they’re 100. So I can do it hypothetically until I die. And I don’t have to rely on anyone else but myself. I mean, It’s not like I have to rely on the quarterback to throw me the ball or anything else. It’s just me against the clock.”

We caught up to Gault as he was completing a workout on the UCLA track. He trains with 440-yard dash record holder John Smith, “a legendary coach,” Gault said,”who’s coached people like Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon and … Carmelita Jeter, who’s the second fastest woman in history (and three-time Olympic medalist).”

Gault trains with her. He also trains with Gil Roberts, a 200-and 400-meter star.

“There are about 14 of us,” he said. “Tyson Gay is out there. He trains with us. Allison Felix is out there. It’s a great atmosphere. And it makes for training and conditioning really well.”

Understood. But Gault is no 20-something. He’s at an age when most former players are at a desk or the next tee. So what gives? What pushes him to keep on … well, pushing?

“I’m on a tee, too,” said Gault. “I love golf. So whenever I get a chance to play, I play. I play in a lot of celebrity tournaments, and it’s really cool. It’s a great game to meet people and interact with people and build relationships.

(But) I think my driving force is I just love what I do. I love being in shape. I love what it feels like. I love the young kids. It makes me young ... And I love to beat the odds. People always say you can’t do something. I want to prove that you can.

“It’s one of those things like in football. I went out and I did my best. I was always in shape. I was always on time. I k new my plays. I made very (few) mistakes. And I led my team every year in Chicago for five years. We didn’t throw the ball that much, granted, but I led the team every year in catches and average per catch and everything else. So I think that goes for something.

“I played the game the way it was supposed to be played . I played hard. I gave it my all. I had nothing but fond memories. And it was very rewarding.”