Pickleball, Power Walking and more! National Senior Games kick off in Fort Lauderdale

Broward County swimmer Randy Mayweather is competing in his first Olympic-style sporting event this week in Fort Lauderdale. Although Michael Phelps was 15 years old when he won his first gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Mayweather is undeterred and by no means thinks he has had his prime. In fact, at 65, Mayweather is one of the youngest athletes to compete in the National Senior Games.

“When I was younger, I didn’t think I would be a competitive level athlete at 65 years old,” says Mayweather. New Times. “But when I got out of the Navy, I saw 80-year-old guys competing in a swim meet and I thought: If they can do it, I can do it..”

From 10 to 23 May, 11,938 athletes qualified across the country, between the ages of 50 and 103 years old, will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in the National Games Senior Biennial 2022, the multisport event qualified largest of the world. taking place at multiple sports venues throughout South Florida, including Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Sawgrass Lanes Bowling Alley, the Ansin Sports Complex, and the Plantation Aquatic Complex. In total, there will be 21 sports, with male and female divisions, including archery, swimming, cycling and athletics, along with some games that have become popular retirement communities, such as bowling, pickleball, shuffleboard, cornhole and power . walking.

Mayweather, who competed in swimming in the early 1970s while attending Boyd H. Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, will compete in the 200-meter breaststroke. Despite suffering two strokes, brain surgery and blood clots in recent years, he says he has continued to train in the pool and stay active.

“As we age, this is an opportunity to maintain our health and do things we did not think we could do,” he says, “to show others that life gives you a chance, but you can do whatever you set your mind” . .”

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Randy Mayweather, 65, of Tamarac will compete in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Photo courtesy of Randy Mayweather

At 103 years old, North Carolina golfer Linsday Tise will be the oldest athlete in the competition.

“Many of them return to sports due to a midlife crisis, the loss of a spouse, or after being diagnosed with diabetes,” says Del Moon, a spokesperson for the National Senior Games. New Times. “These are the types of people who came to sports to reclaim their health and wellness in a way that provides them with excitement, goals and motivation.”

Although the National Senior Games are usually held in odd-numbered years, the competition went virtual in 2021 to keep competitors safe. Normally, participants must qualify at one of the 53 State Games sanctioned by the National Senior Games Association (a nonprofit affiliated organization that is a council member of the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee), but the process has been modified to allow more athletes the opportunity to qualify. Now that vaccines and boosters are available and COVID-19 infections have subsided, athletes are eager to compete in person for the first time since the 2019 Games in Albuquerque.

click to enlarge National Senior Games events are free and open to the public.  - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES ASSOCIATION

National Senior Games events are free and open to the public.

Photo courtesy of the National Senior Gaming Association

58-year-old triathlete De Shann Schinkel is so excited that she has traveled from Wyoming to compete for the third time at the National Senior Games.

“There has been so much darkness in our country during the pandemic that I am so excited to see all the smiles, all the people hugging, and the camaraderie at games,” says Schinkel. New Times. “I love the camaraderie, being together and seeing each other keep moving and taking that step every day.”

Games kicked off Tuesday with pickleball, volleyball, the 1,500-meter walk event and the 1,500-meter run. But the lighting of the ceremonial cauldron at the Arrival of the Flame Ceremony at 7 pm Wednesday at Las Olas Oceanside Park will mark the official start of the games.

The games are free and open to the public. The public is invited (and encouraged) to join the athletes in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest freeze dance game at 5:45 pm on Monday, May 16 at Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park.

“Seeing someone over 100 participate in swimming and running is inspiring,” says Schinkel. “The good thing is to look at these athletes and think, That’s what I want to be when I grow up!

Senior National Games. Until May 23, at various locations in the area. To see a full schedule of events, visit nsga.com.

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