A man whose passion for, and success with, track & field dating back nearly 50 years will be inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame next month.
Michael Sayers, an 18-time Senior Games All-American and the No. 1-ranked javelin thrower in the world for his age group, will join 10 other inductees at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame's 36th annual banquet, which will be held Monday, Feb. 20 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. Joining him in the Class of 2017 are Paul Cooley, Jake Ensign, Charlie LaDuca, Sammy LaMancuso, Deb Palmer, Bob Patterson, Dave Polechetti, Sam Restivo, Maceo Wofford and the late Francis "Doc" Malinoski.
Born in 1954 and a 62-year resident of Chautauqua County, Sayers is a graduate of Fredonia Central School where he was a member of the football and track and field teams. While a student at SUNY Brockport, he competed in gymnastics and track and field, earning Division III All-American in the javelin in 1974.
As it turned out, Sayers was just getting started.
A multiple medalist at Senior Games in the javelin, discus and shot, Sayers turned in his most impressive performance of his career last June at the Empire State Games at SUNY Cortland. It was there that he threw the javelin 49.97 meters (164 feet), which was the best in the United States for the 60-64 age group and the best in the world rankings for the same event and age group.
A 35-year Special Olympics volunteer, Sayers lives in Lakewood.
Banquet tickets may be purchased at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt's News, 93 E. 3rd St. in Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St. in Jamestown. Tickets, priced at $50, can also be ordered by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 485-6991. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Hospitality begins at 5 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:15 p.m.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article on Mike Sayers appeared in The Post-Journal on July 20, 2016. He will join 10 other inductees at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame's 36th annual banquet, which will be held Monday, Feb. 20 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. Joining him in the Class of 2017 are Paul Cooley, Jake Ensign, Charlie LaDuca, Sammy LaMancuso, Deb Palmer, Bob Patterson, Dave Polechetti, Sam Restivo, Maceo Wofford and the late Francis "Doc" Malinoski.
Local resident Michael Sayers has had a passion for the javelin throw for quite some time.
From his time in high school as a Fredonia Hillbilly, to his collegiate career at SUNY Brockport, to being honored by the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, the 61-year-old Sayers has racked up accomplishments in the javelin and several other track and field events throughout his successful competitive career.
His most recent accomplishment, however, is certainly one of the most impressive.
In June at the Empire State Games, which were held at SUNY Cortland, Sayers' mark of 49.97 meters in the javelin throw shattered the All-American standard of 39 meters.
But that's not all.
That impressive mark of 49.97 meters puts him as the best in the United States in the updated rankings for World Masters Athletics in the 60-64 age group and it's good enough for Sayers to hold the top spot in the world rankings for the same event and age group as well.
"I have a personal best (in the javelin throw) which is like almost 68 meters (68.5 meters), which was back in (1979)," Sayers said. "I like throwing things. Rocks, snowballs, anything i can get my hands on. Throwing the javelin was just like throwing a spear.
"I hadn't really known about (the rankings), I hadn't really thought about it until somebody said, 'Hey, have you checked the rankings?'" Sayers continued. "It means a lot."
As he has gotten older, Sayers has attributed a great deal of his success when it comes to throwing the javelin to his superb technique.
"I think my biggest strength is technique," he explained. "I'm not as big as half the guys that I throw against and I'm not as strong as half the guys I throw against. But I have good technique and I have (solid) arm speed. I think a combination of speed plus technique has (allowed me to excel)."
Although he is currently dealing with an injured shoulder, Sayers has no intention of slowing down once his injury is healed.
"It's nothing I want to give up," he emphasized. "Right now. I've got a little shoulder problem I'm trying to work through and that's hampered my javelin throwing a little bit, but I still try to keep in shape even though I'm not throwing all out. So as far as getting a lot of (other) meets in this year, I might not because of my shoulder. But, if I let it rest, then that will (help) make me better next year. I love doing it."
NOTES: In the world rankings for the 60-64 male age group, Walter Kuhndel of Germany is second (49.20 meters), while the top five also includes David Ludeke of South Africa in fourth (48.19) and Seiji Ota of Japan in fifth (48.01). For the United States rankings, Jim Fuqua (45.79 meters) of Birmingham, Alabama is behind Sayers in second; Jim Lewis (45.55) of Tempe, Arizona is third; David Hamel (44.70) of Norwalk, California is fourth; and Thomas Nielsen (42.99) of Chester, Pennsylvania rounds out the top five.