Be a Senior Super Athlete

Imagine this: you’re at a track event, waiting at the finish line for runners quickly approaching. The race is close, and the crowd is engaged. All of a sudden, your grandpa breaks the tape and crosses the finish line, winning first place. The crowd goes wild! This is the type of celebration that you could experience at the Michigan Senior Olympics.

What is the Michigan Senior Olympics?

For most of us, entering our parents and/or grandparents into any type of Olympics sounds a little strange. However, the Michigan Senior Olympics has encouraged this since 1979. This annual event gives individuals over the age of 50 a chance to showcase their athleticism and passion for sports. It’s absolutely remarkable.

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Senior athletes posing after the 2015 Games with their medals.

The Michigan Senior Olympics official website shares that the games focus on “enhancing the quality of life…by providing and developing programs in physical fitness, nutrition and enhancing mental strength and sports skills.” Events vary from dance competitions to pickleball. There’s also track and field, swimming, bowling, golf, basketball, table tennis and more.

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Pickeball game in the 2015 Michigan Senior Olympic Games.

This year, the events will be in various locations throughout Oakland County, Mich. (that’s a hint that you should definitely check them out). The opening ceremony of the summer games falls on Aug. 12 and registration is open now.

Meet the Athletes

I don’t know about you, but I would love to be 70 years old with the physical ability to play a variety of high-energy sports. These senior athletes are definitely #goals.

Meet: Mary Krocki, 76

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Mary has participated in the Michigan Senior Olympics twice, both in 2010 and in 2014, taking medals both times. She says she loves the organization’s “philosophy and mission to help people over 50 live a healthy lifestyle.” This unstoppable grandmother of 17 loves to run, bike and swim, so it’s understandable that she would gravitate to the triathlon.

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“I believe this is something that helps me stay active and engage in activity with my grandchildren and family.” -Mary Krocki

 

Mary’s training plan is nothing short of impressive. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays she runs and walks, on Tuesdays and Thursdays she bikes and on Fridays she swims. That totals to about five to six hours of training a week. Not bad, not bad at all.

 

 

Meet: Enrico Odorico, 75

Enrico has been involved with the games since 1994. Although just a volunteer at the time, his love for competition drove him to participate in forthcoming years.

Despite overcoming two back surgeries, Enrico has continued to dominate the games in both the bowling and golf events. He played three sports in high school, two in college and taught physical education for almost 50 years. So I guess you could say he has been training for the games all his life.

In addition to teaching bowling, golf and strength training classes, Enrico has pushed himself to stay active for years.

“The people that work there put a lot of effort into organizing these events, and I have to give them credit for all they do; they do a great job,” Enrico said.

Meet Vicki Tingley, 52 (and her dedicated family)

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Art Holland pole vaulting.

Vicki’s inspiration to participate in the games came from her parents who were involved for years. Both of Vicki’s parents, Mary and Art Holland, were inducted into the first Michigan Senior Olympics Hall of Fame class. Art actually represented Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. He also taught himself how to pole vault at the age of 70. Mary, at age 92, is Vicki’s partner for the double events in the games. Talk about a power family.

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“Not many women will tell you they are excited to turn 50 but I was, as I could finally join the Senior Olympics. That was a birthday present to myself.”-Vicki Tingley

Vicki shares that she loves shuffleboard (with her mom and brother), bocce ball and softball.  What’s remarkable about Vicki is that she actually taught herself how to do field events including high jump, long jump, triple jump, discus, etc. “For high jump,” she says, “I set up a pole with a broom and two ladders and would high jump into the pool.”

In terms of training, Vicki doesn’t miss an opportunity to practice. She often stops at vacant parks and tosses the shot-put, discus and javelin, consistently pushing herself to beat her previous toss.

How Do They Do It?

I know what you’re thinking, what is the secret to breaking the stereotypes that come with aging? Mary, Enrico and Vicki all thankfully shared their personal tips on how they’ve remained healthy and active over the years:

  1. Make your health a priority. Mary says a healthy lifestyle starts with a mindset of being committed to staying active.
  2. Maintain a good lifestyle. Enrico shares that it is extremely important to start as early as possible. This means over the course of your life you should minimize drinking, stop smoking, eat properly and exercise regularly.
  3. Have a good time. Making your life healthy should not be a drag. Vicki encourages us to get out and participate in something we enjoy.

What can we do to be a super senior athlete? Leave a comment below sharing how you remain active on a daily basis, maybe we can learn a few tips from you on our journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Make sure to read these blogs on healthy aging, too:

Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan

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