Los Angeles Times

16 Jul


I am visiting my mother and sister in California.  Reading the Los Angeles Times is one of the small pleasures I take from my trip.  

On Sunday, July 14th the Times ran an article written by Steve Lopez.  Mr. Lopez’s subject was Johnnye Valien.  Mrs. Valien is eighty-seven years old, a widowed mother of three, a retired Los Angles Parks Department employee, and the reigning world record-holder for women 85-90 in the in the pole vault.

In 2002 Johnnye Valien was inducted into the Masters Track Hall of Fame.  She has set world records in the pole vault and the long jump.  Mrs. Valien has set American records in the shot put, high jump and 100 meters.  She still holds age-group world records in the 80-and 300-meter hurdles and the seven-event heptathlon.

It took Mr. Lopez several attempts before he managed to secure the interview, which was conducted at a West Los Angeles College all-comers track meet.  Mrs. Valien has turned down Sports Illustrated.  She didn’t want the fuss of getting her house ready for the interview.

She didn’t start participating in masters track until 1988, twenty-four years ago.

Mrs. Valien isn’t sure track is her best sport.  Skiing is her true passion.  She takes great pride in her ski trophies.

Mrs. Valien ran track at Tuskegee University.  Seven of her teammates made the 1948 Olympic team.  Mr. Lopez felt not making the Olympic team is the reason Mrs. Valien is still chasing her track dreams.

Johnnye Valien is just another ordinary woman living an extraordinary life. 

This is someone who didn’t let a number tell her what she should and shouldn’t do.  She continues to pursue her passions and take joy from living each day.

We need to heed Johnnye Valien’s message.  Keep chasing your dream.  It is in your reach.


Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Idaho


17 responses to “Los Angeles Times

  1. Janis McCurry

    July 16, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    Nice reminder not to give up. Thanks.

    • Lynn Mapp

      July 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      These reminders are for me. If this woman can do it, why can’t I?

  2. Corina Mallory

    July 16, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    What a wonderful story! Also, what a wonderful name. We often laugh at celebrities for giving their kids odd or unusual names and forget that America has, what I think, is a wonderful tradition of offbeat naming. Older characters in our books don’t always have to be named Mary or Thelma. A Johnnye could be just the ticket.

    • Lynn Mapp

      July 16, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      You’ve got to love the L.A. Times. It takes time to read the paper because of the depth of the articles.

  3. Judith Keim

    July 16, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    What a great story! I’d love to meet her!!She is so inspirational. Thanks for sharing such a good reminder, Lynn. Enjoy the rest of your time in LA. Hugs

    • Lynn Mapp

      July 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      I didn’t even mention the fact that she takes the bus to the track. That’s dedication.

  4. Jennifer

    July 16, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    That’s awesome! I love this story.

    • Lynn Mapp

      July 16, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      That’s why I had to share it. The woman is…incredible.

  5. maryvine

    July 16, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    Thanks for the inspiring post, Lynn. Who knows what is in our future? Gotta keep keepin on.

  6. Lynn Mapp

    July 16, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Mary, so true. This is a reminder.

  7. marsharwest

    July 17, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Sorry to just be getting here. Thanks for sharing this, Lynn. I ran across a similarly inspiring story today. A woman is going to be a guest on my blog Tuesday Author Chats in August. She sent me the answers to my questions and at one point mentioned being 86. I though huh! If she really is 86, that’s great. If she mistyped and is really only 56, she’ll probably be upset she messed up the numbers. I wrote her back. She is indeed 86 years old and still writing and pubbing. She loves e-books and is having most of her old ones pubbed as an ebook. She’s pubbed over 100 books!
    What great reminders of how much life is still ahead of us. The pole vaulter is clearly astounding. And my author still sees well and can handle the computer. Maybe we need them to give us “healthy living” ideas. 🙂
    My book VERMONT ESCAPE is available Friday from MuseItUp Publishing. I’m frankly still pinching myself.

  8. Lynn Mapp

    July 18, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Hey Marsha, I say keep pitching yourself. Our hope is we can be 86 and still doing what we love.

  9. stephanieberget

    July 23, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    I’m sorry I’m so late reading this. What a wonderful story. She’s an inspirational woman. Thanks.

    • Lynn Mapp

      July 24, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Steph, the woman is amazing. But…you know I believe there are amazing people all around us. We just need to look.

  10. Peggy Staggs

    July 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    WOW! I really needed that right now. Thanks.

  11. Lynn Mapp

    July 24, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Peggy, you are well able. Get to it.


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