89-year-old Keith Sime has a message for other seniors who would balk at the thought of running in a race: “You don’t know what you can do until you try it.” The longtime runner was just one of the 11,500 athletes participating in July’s National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. The athletes, aged 50 and up, participated in 20 sports and nearly 1,200 competitions. These athletes have discovered the secret to successful aging, as the Olympics-style games foster camaraderie and promote exercise and vitality in older adults.
Defying Limits and Winning Gold
Sime held up a peace sign after running in track events, winning three gold medals and two silver medals in track at the Senior Games. An experienced runner, Sime has long competed in marathons — even since reaching senior citizenship — like the 2015 Boston Marathon, which he ran alongside his eldest son. He also competed in racquetball, winning two gold medals and one silver medal.
The Pickleball Phenomenon
Ron Franke, a 66-year-old pickleball player from Georgetown, Texas, caught some air during the competition. The vice-president of the Sun City Texas Pickleball Club, Franke competed in one of the most popular games in this year’s events. The surge in pickleball’s popularity was evident as the registration had to be closed due to a lack of enough courts. This dynamic sport has brought joy and excitement to senior athletes, creating a vibrant and competitive environment for all involved.
Empowering Female Athletes
Helene Myers, 69, of Columbia, Maryland, flashed a big smile as she prepped for her track and field event. Many of the senior women competing in the National Senior Games did not have the opportunity to participate in sports in their youth. Now, they embrace the chance to compete and showcase their skills with infectious joy. The games have a special atmosphere that is not just about winning but also about celebrating the spirit of competition and being part of a supportive community.
A 90-Year-Old Pole Vaulting Marvel
Pole vaulter Edward Kent, 90, expertly cleared the bar as he competed in the challenging track and field event. The games have a very special atmosphere, and seeing athletes like Kent competing is truly motivational. Age is no barrier to these extraordinary athletes who continue to set the bar high for their peers and inspire the next generation. The joy of being able to compete and share the experience with others is an integral part of the Senior Games, fostering a sense of community and celebration.