But the good news is it’s never too late to be a sport


A constant stream of bad news is not good for a healthy lifestyle. It can drown out the other news, the very good news, that can inspire us, challenge us, make us sit up and pay attention to what’s possible.

So what will be your focus today? The tragedy in Iraq? The mayhem in D.C.? Or Margaret Evans, age 95, a former schoolteacher known as Marnie, who just won a Gold Medal for the shot put?

“The image of aging is changing,” Phil Godfrey told the Associated Press at the early July conclusion of the 2007 Summer National Senior Games in Louisville, Ky. The Games are booming, said Godfrey, who is chairman, with more than 12,000 over-50s competing this year, a healthy jump up from the 2,500 who participated when the Games started 20 years ago. About 90,000 seniors competed to qualify for the 2007 games.

“Our fastest growing demographics are athletes in their 60s,” said Godfrey, “and I think that’s just going to become bigger as boomers become more involved.”

Charles Modlin didn’t get involved in running until after he retired, and now, at age 82, after two bouts of cancer, he is this year’s winner in the men’s 100-meter dash (age category: 80-84). And what about Dorothy Riordan, who didn’t start swimming until she was 65? Now, 30 years later, she is still training, still competing, still going strong in the 100-meter individual medley in spite of macular degeneration and being legally blind.

“I get in there, and I think I’m just going to do the best I can. You’ve just got to go out and do it!” says 95-year-old Riordan. “That’s what this is all about. There’s no reason everyone can’t get involved.”

Margaret “Marnie” Evans, the ancient shot-putter, has been so involved in the Senior Games, she has more than 100 medals under her belt (and other places). The real reason she won another Gold this year is probably because no one else was alive to compete in her age category. So what? She’s out there

  • doing it, loving it! And so can you. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started:
  • Start where you are. No matter how old, infirm or out of shape, chances are swell you can get stronger and more flexible, and experience fewer aches and pains by getting started on a program of safe, regular exercise. It begins with your intention! Before they read your will, find your way.
  • Be informed. You don’t have to be a track and field champion to jump online and check out several interesting sources of information and inspiration for the senior athlete and (the training site) are favorites of mine. Cliff “Irongeezer” Eggink is the man behind both of these sites. He just completed his third Ironman triathlon at the age of 70. He started doing the Ironman when he was 65. (the Master’s sports & fitness magazine) is another good Web site for active seniors. Offline searches - for senior sports clubs, associations, competitions - are also encouraged.

  • Champion your own cause. Going from sedentary to active - especially as an older person - is not a piece of cake. It takes courage, character and support from your loved ones and doctors. But it all begins with your trust and confidence in your own ability to change your life. You’ll need patience, too. Proceed slowly, with caution. If someone tells you you’re too old to do a particular thing - Yoga? Biking? Square dancing? - question their authority.

There are 18 different sports in the Senior Games, from javelin and swimming to bowling and shuffleboard. The next Senior Games will be in the Bay Area in 2009. Phil Godfrey is expecting 15,000 senior athletes to compete. And here’s the best news of all: You could be one of them. Or you could be someone who tried.
“Stay alive as long as you live,” says our Miss Marnie.

What do you say?


“What, then, is the right way of living? Life must be lived as play, playing certain games, making sacrifices, singing and dancing, and then a man will be able to propitiate the gods, and defend himself against his enemies, and win in the contest.” - Plato

Marilynn Preston is a fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to