Area seniors compete in Olympic eventsWritten by Casey Harper | | firstname.lastname@example.org
While the rest of Toledo slept in or watched Saturday morning cartoons, more than 200 older athletes sprinted down the track, hurled javelins and did the long jump at the 50+ Sports Classic.
Athletes 50 years old and older competed in a wide array of track and field, swimming and other events June 8 at St. Francis de Sales High School.
“Watching the participants develop friendships and seeing them have some fun while getting some exercise with others is inspiring,” said Justin Moor, spokesperson for the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio. “The event draws family members and friends of the participants who come to cheer on the participants as they go for the gold.”
Mary-Chris Kay epitomizes the over-the-hill athlete. Her alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. on a typical Tuesday morning and she hops in the car for a 25-minute drive to Sylvania, where her master swim coach is waiting with a smile and a workout that would crush the average adult.
“I’ve been blessed, that’s for sure,” Kay said. “I enjoy trying to do something better than I think I can.”
Kay swims four or five days a week and spends two hours a week doing yoga and two more on Pilates as well as a weekly TRX core workout.
“I love trying to get better at what I do,” Kay said. “The human body can do so much more than we think it can and I love to challenge myself to see if I can still do it.”
Kay qualified for the national senior competition in the 50-meter dash, javelin, triple long jump, 50-and 100-meter butterfly, 50-and 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley.
At the 50+ Senior Classic, Kay won gold in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyle. She also took first in the 100-meter butterfly, javelin and long jump.
“It’s rewarding when you work hard and you are able to meet a challenge,” Kay said.
Kay suffered an injury last August that made it painful to walk and impossible to train for five months.
“It was terrible,” she said. “It was bordering on depression. I’m very grateful now. I thank God every day that I can swim and I can move. We see a lot of people sidelined with injuries so we are very grateful to continue to press on.”
The competitors are divided into age categories of five-year increments. Events include track and field events, swimming, tennis, volleyball, table tennis, horseshoes, bowling, golf, basketball and more.
“There are sons and daughters that come and watch and cheer them on,” Moor said. “It’s a kind of role reversal. When they were in Little League there were moms and dads watching and cheering them on but now they’re cheering their parents on.”
John Florian took gold in table tennis. He is 85 years old and has played table tennis for 73 years. Now, he uses the sport to keep in touch with his son, whom he plays with three times a month.
“I’ve been playing it since I was 12 years old and I love the game,” Florian said. “Most of my life, if I see a pingpong table I find someone to play with.”
Terry Mohler is 83 years old and won gold in the 200-meter, silver in the 100-meter, gold in the 400-meter, and silver in the shot put. He stays in shape by running with the Toledo Roadrunners, a running club open to all ages.
“I think I’m the senior member,” Mohler said. “[The 50+ Classic] is fun. It’s good to get those old guys together and gals too and get all charged up. Many of the people that I compete with I’ve known for years. It’s like a reunion.”