Mary Roman - 2016 Athlete of the Year
A 27-year journey by Mary Roman may have celebrated its best year yet in 2016.
The ageless wonder from Norwalk ended the year with a vintage performance in November at the World Masters Association Track and Field Championships in Perth, Australia, where she won six medals—two gold, two silver, two bronze in five throwing events and one relay—in the women’s 80-84 age division.
A few weeks later, Roman put the finishing touches on her outstanding year by being named the Connecticut Masters Games Athlete of the Year.
It was the latest in a long line of impressive honors for Roman, who has captured close to 300 total medals since she first competed in the Connecticut Senior Olympics at the age of 55. Since then, she has established herself as one of the top senior athletes in the world, competing in countries such as Spain, Italy, British Columbia and Brazil. We can now add Australia to that list.
Success has followed Roman throughout most of her Masters career. She holds the American outdoor record in the shot put in the women’s 65-69, 70-74 and 75-79 age groups. She was also ranked first in the U.S. in the shot put, weight throw and super weight throw during her final indoor season in the 75-79 division, as well as No. 1 in the world in both the super and ultra-weight throws.
And not surprisingly, Roman has already set a couple of new American records in her new 80-84 age group.
But while the Stockbridge, Mass., native was always athletic, the self-confessed ‘Tom Boy’ grew up at a time when opportunities for girls to play sports were limited. She did play center on her high school girls basketball team for four years, but when she attended Springfield College, there were no intercollegiate sports for women yet.
That still didn’t stop Roman, however, as she was able to display her athleticism playing intramural field hockey, basketball, softball and volleyball.
A Norwalk resident since 1964, she was introduced to Connecticut Senior Olympics in 1987 when her husband competed and she went along to support him. That experience inspired her to enter when she became eligible and two years later Roman was competing at the Nationals. Before long she was qualifying for the World Senior Games and the USATF Masters Track and Field Championships. The medals have been adding up ever since.
This isn’t the first time Mary Roman has been honored for her accomplishments as a senior athlete. She is a past recipient of the Connecticut Senior Olympics Phillip Lubarsky Golden Spirit Award and has served as Grand Marshall for Connecticut Senior Olympics. In 2010, she was named the Norwalk Sports Person of the Year by the Fairfield County Sports Commission.
Track and field isn’t her only passion, either. The retired Norwalk City Clerk has been a volunteer for several organizations in her community for nearly four decades, including serving on the Board of Directors with the local YMCA, the Family & Children’s Agency, STAR, Inc., and on the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and United Way committees.
The mother of five sons is also a past president of the Norwalk Rotary Club, current treasurer with the Norwalk Old Timers Athletic Association, served as a commissioner for the Oak Hills Golf Course, and appointed to the Mayor’s Police-Community Relations Advisory Committee. In addition she’s been a volunteer with ‘Pegasus,’ which provides therapeutic horseback riding for the mentally and physically challenged.