Windham Selectman Ross McLeod Shows an Athlete’s HeartAugust 23, 2013
by Jacob Gagnon
Athletes are as diverse as snowflakes. They are not resigned to any single age, gender or ethnicity, nor are they discouraged by disabilities or weaknesses. The one thing that every athlete seems to possess, however, is a powerful heart, or spirit. Windham Selectmen Ross McLeod showed immense heart, despite his own having been surgically repaired four years earlier, as he earned top ten honors in two consecutive bike races at the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio this past July to cap off his remarkable recovery and inspiring comeback.
The National Senior Games is held every two years for athletes fifty years of age or older. Men and women compete in a number of events annually and are separated by five year increments into their own age brackets. McLeod earned his National Title Games berth by placing in the cycling event in the Granite State Senior Games last summer. In the Saturday race of the National Games, McLeod finished in ninth place despite each athlete battling both each other and the rain, with the threat of crashing heavy on every racer’s mind. The next day, McLeod defeated a number of higher-tier bikers to claim sixth place on the national scale.
McLeod has battled exercise-induced asthma, with the help on an inhaler, his whole life. He was inspired by his sister, an Olympic-caliber athlete in the marathon, to remain active. There would be harder challenges than asthma for McLeod to overcome in his athletic career, however.
“I started racing in about 2001,” said McLeod. After crashing in 2006, McLeod spent a year recovering. In 2009, he had a heart attack which not only threatened his cycling career, but his life. “I was bound and determined to get back into it,” said McLeod. McLeod gained support from a group of friends that he has biked with regularly.
For McLeod, biking is a way to not only satisfy a competitive attitude and get regular exercise, but to have a good time as well. “It is fun, it’s healthy and it’s a great stress relief,” said McLeod. “I’m a much better road racer than at time trials. With a road race, there’s a little more strategy. I’m much better there.”
“I rode a smart race and, near the end, I was in it, sprinted hard and held on for sixth (place),” said McLeod. “I was really excited.”
McLeod will continue to compete for the fun of it, for his health and, perhaps, because he is a true athlete whose heart will carry him past every obstacle and through every finish line.