After battling back from a life-threatening illness, Montesano resident Josh Huff has reached the pinnacle of his sport.
Huff ran the first leg of Team USA’s gold-medal winning Masters 45 4×400 men’s relay team on July 10 at the World Masters Athletics Championships at Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland.
Huff, along with teammates Ronald Atkins, Mark Williams and Rawle DeLisle, raced around the track with a time of 3:40.92, crossing the line in a photo finish with Australia.
The race was so close a clear winner could not be determined and both Team USA and Australia were awarded gold medals for their efforts.
“I now have a gold medal from the world games and can now consider myself a World Champion,” said Huff, who won a national championship at the USATF Masters Outdoor Nationals in Aames, Iowa, a year ago but nearly missed worlds after facing a debilitating illness.
Huff stated he “nearly died” in October 2021 after a bout with Crohn’s disease, an illness that had him in a hospital bed for a month and put in jeopardy his chances at competing on the world stage.
“I ended up losing my entire large intestine and most of my colon. I now have a permanent colostomy bag taped to my abdomen,” he said. “It was a ton to overcome. I lost my 2022 indoor season and couldn’t seriously train for worlds until around March.”
Huff said competing at the world meet in Finland provided all the motivation he needed to not only recover, but again compete at a world-class level.
“Tampere was the motivation to healing up and pushing myself to get into elite condition for worlds,” he said. “I wasn’t 100 percent, but I was good enough to push through as the first leg on the 4×400 relay to get my job done so my teammates could get the baton around in time for us to win.”
Puerto Rico (4:53.81) placed third with Great Britain/Northern Ireland and Finland unable to compete in the race (DNS).