ALBERT LEA, MN—Inspired by watching this year’s Olympics, Paul Anderson, 46, has decided to become a sprinter.
“If you can dream it, you can do it! I read that on a throw pillow at Hobby Lobby,” Anderson said.
The dream, which he’s had for nearly a week, was further cemented Sunday while Anderson watched the men’s 100-meter semifinal from his couch.
“It really doesn’t look that hard,” Anderson said “You just run in a straight line.”
Anderson, an insurance actuary, has adopted St. Ignatius Elementary School, just a few blocks from his home in Albert Lea, Minnesota, as his training facility. The track is open for public use during non-school hours. Using his phone, he timed himself in the 100-meter dash. His first run was 23.42 seconds; his second was 22.67. Not wanting to push his body too hard on the first day, Anderson stopped, but returned the following day and logged a personal-best 21.58 – exactly 12 seconds off Usain Bolt’s current world record.
“Twelve seconds! That’s a blink of an eye!” Anderson said. “There were some kids there for a summer reading program. I asked if they wanted to run with me; I beat most of them, which is pretty good since they’re so small and don’t have as much weight holding them back.”
Anderson did not run track in high school, or ever, but he has pursued glory in a number of other fields.
“He gets these … ideas,” his wife, Wendy Anderson, said. “It’s nice that he has goals, but, yeah. I always try to be encouraging but I do remind him that, you know, these great athletes have been working at it a long time and they’re not 5-foot-6 with a little bit of a belly.”
Paul Anderson bought his first set of golf clubs after seeing Tiger Woods’ stunning win at the 2019 Masters.
“Those clubs have been in the closet the last two summers, and they were so gosh darn expensive,” Wendy Anderson said. “I remember one time he came home all excited because he’d shot a 74, and I told him that was such a good score, but it turned out he’d been playing on a par-three course without realizing it. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.”
Anderson spent a couple weeks laid up following a mishap in 2010. Days after watching the luge at that year’s Vancouver Olympics, he attempted to ride down a children’s slide while on a mechanic’s creeper.
Becoming a grand master was Anderson’s most recent all-encompassing pursuit after he and Wendy watched “The Queen’s Gambit” last year on Netflix. The dream was ditched after Anderson lost 17 straight games to NoobH8r at Chess.com.
After seeing Michael Jordan in the 1993 NBA Finals, Anderson fancied himself a potential first-round draft pick. Then a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Anderson’s hopes were blunted when he learned that the school’s men’s basketball team did not hold open tryouts.
“You had to know somebody, I guess,” he said.
This time, though, things will be different, Anderson assures. He plans to fashion racing blocks out of a couple foot sizers he picked up at a going-out-of-business shoe store and shave his head, arms, and legs to reduce drag.
As the interview concluded, Anderson signed the back of his business card and handed it to the reporter.
“Hang onto that. It’s gonna be worth something someday,” he said.