Seventy-two-year-old veteran, Bruce Bodsworth, is defying all expectations when it comes to the pursuit of athleticism later in life, providing a beacon of inspiration to his fellow veteran peers and the wider community in the process.
The Southport RSL Sub Branch member said he is on a mission to encourage fellow veterans to join him in enjoying all the benefits of an active lifestyle.
Bruce’s commitment to Queensland Masters Athletics, a sports club offering 16 events in running, jumping, and throwing to individuals 30 and above, sets a powerful example that people of all ages and abilities can seek out an active lifestyle.
“Having witnessed firsthand the mental and physical challenges that servicemen and women can return home with, I firmly believe athletics can work wonders for veterans,” Bruce said.
“It is well documented how activity has positive effects on ones physical and mental health, but I think in particular, this type of activity takes a lot out of you. At night you’re tired, which allows your body to sleep and rest, which can be a huge help for veterans dealing with PTSD.”
Bruce and his family have an extensive military history, stemming back to his grandfather who served in the Merchant Navy and father who served in the Army during the New Guinea campaign.
His two brothers were also involved in multiple campaigns during the Vietnam War and his son recently returned home from Afghanistan.
His own service background consists of three years in signals toward the end of the Vietnam War, with the majority of his postings in different parts of Queensland.
It was during his time in service in the late 1960s, when Bruce started pursuing his athletic interests through Inter Service Athletics. Since then, he’s been involved in track and field for 50 years – achieving 300 medals to date at the state, national and international level.
“I think athletics has a similar sense of mateship to the ADF – there are great bonds formed through training, practice and competitions. It’s an environment where we look out for each other and cheer each other on,” Bruce explained.
His passion also extends beyond personal achievements. Bruce is an enthusiastic coach and enjoys sharing his love for the sport with athletes of all abilities. For a period of time, he was a guide runner for a competitive blind sprinter.
Mr Bodsworth has gravitated towards the pentathlon and decathlon relishing in the opportunity to compete in five to 10 events that include running, jumping and throwing.
“The season runs from October to April, meaning it can become consistent and quite a permananent hobby in a veterans’ life,” he said.
“As we age, it can be intimidating to start something new that’s strenuous on the body, but vets can make it as competitive as they want to – my advice to anyone is just give it a go.”
“I think it has also helped my aging both physically and mentally. I believe I will live longer and healthier because of it.”
Regularly participating in local competitions, the Gold Coast veteran is eager for the decathlon and pentathlon state championships in February and the national championships in Hobart at the end of March.
“I am incredibly passionate about spreading my love for athletics because it has brought so much positivity into my life and I want others to experience that too. I believe the sky is the limit for me,” he said.