Mike Matteson listens to his doctor.
After the Delavan resident underwent surgery in December to have a stent put in his left anterior descending artery—for the second time—Matteson asked his surgeon if he could continue his normal activities.
“The heart surgeon said I would be a high risk for heart attacks for the rest of my life,” the 66-year-old Matteson said. “He said, ‘Don’t act like a heart patient.’”
So Matteson and his wife, Diane, continue to work out at the Janesville Athletic Club. And 16 or so times a year, they compete in weight throws at Masters track and field events.
And the couple does extremely well.
Mike won gold medals in three throw divisions at the first United States Association Track and Field-sanctioned Ultra Weight Pentathlon World Championships in September at Clearwater, Florida.
His combined score ranks second to the world record holder.
He has achieved All-America status (surpassing distance standards set by the USATF) in the hammer, shot, discus, 20-pound weight and 44-pound weight since he turned 60.
As of the end of the 2017 season, Mike has two national championship titles and has been the No. 1-ranked world thrower five times in the 44-pound super weight throw.
A 1970 Walworth Big Foot High graduate, Mike, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds, played college football at UW-Whitewater and then played for the Delavan Red Devils.
He started field competition in 1995 in the Badger State Games.
Diane would go along to support Mike and keep track of his distances.
Finally, at the age of 60, she agreed to join in the fun.
“She always kept in good shape, swimming and walking,” Mike said. “I finally talked her into competing.”
Diane has had her own health issues to overcome.
Six years ago at Christmas, their car was involved in a T-bone crash. Diane’s head went through the passenger-side window. The symptoms of the concussion continue, prohibiting Diane from spinning in the typical weight throw procedure.
The weights used in competition have small handles. Diane is forced to windmill the weight a couple times before releasing it.
Diane suffered another injury while competing in a javelin throw at one meet in July of 2016.
After completing a throw, Diane was out marking another competitor’s toss. A gust of wind caught the javelin and turned it toward Diane.
She could have been speared but managed to get out of the way—except for her hand. The javelin crushed the knuckle of her middle finger.
She has overcome both those injuries. She joined Mike in winning a gold medal in three weight classes at the Ultra Weight Pentathlon World Championships in September.
Diane has achieved All-America status in the hammer throw, discus and the 12- and 20-pound weight throws. At the end of the 2015 season, Diane was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 20-pound super weight division.
In addition, she has earned All-America status in the long jump.
The couple credits their intense kettlebell training, core work and functional fitness training for their continued success.
Neither of them are ready to cut back their activities, which include working at UW-Whitewater track and field meets.
“We all get dinged up,” Mike said of the Masters competitors. “We all go through something. I’m no different than anyone else.”
He’s just following doctor’s orders.