For the first time, NSGA presented two Personal Best athlete awards in one state visit. The "Las Vegas Double Down" happened because we first selected 60-year-old tennis player and cancer survivor Brenda Talley (left in photo), who is also the director of the Nevada Senior Games. A big reason why she became the games director is tied to her inspirational story. We just had to select Brenda to honor.
“Brenda’s board of directors and our staff all agreed that her story of overcoming dire personal obstacles, and her heroic efforts to salvage the state games when they were in danger of being canceled in 2013, made for the most compelling story,” said NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker. “While the selection was not based on her current position, we decided that since we were coming to Las Vegas it was only appropriate to ‘double down’ and select a second athlete to profile too."
At the annual Nevada Senior Games Celebration of Athletes attended by over 300 athletes and supporters, Riker honored Talley and 64-year old elite badminton medalist Debbie Lorenzo in our NSGA Personal Best presentation.
“My goal to recover from ovarian cancer was to get healthy enough to qualify at state games to play tennis in the National Senior Games, which I was fortunate to finally do this summer." Talley told the audience. “The Games helped save me, and they are important for so many others too.”
Lorenzo, a Singapore native who served UNESCO internationally and came to Las Vegas to live with her mother after an emergency evacuation from the former Yugoslavia eliminated her position in 1995, told the audience, “Age is only a silly little number. You’ve heard this before, but it’s true: don’t just add years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years.”
The program also included a presentation of proclamations from the Mayor of Las Vegas and Governor of Nevada presented by Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, a staunch supporter of their games. Las Vegas area YMCA representatives Barbara Carter, Susan Flight and Brianna Barber were also thanked for their support of the Nevada Senior Games. NSGA and YMCA of the USA have forged a partnership encouraging states to seek relationships that will enhance healthy active living for seniors. Nevada has answered the call!
During their stay, Riker and NSGA Communications and Media Director Del Moon also enjoyed visiting Nevada games action at cycling, track and field and racquetball venues. The Nevada games drew over 650 participants, a great showing for a non-qualifying year.
We were fortunate to meet track Olympian Martha Watson (seen here on left with Riker and Talley), who has been a volunteer for their games for several years and just entered competition herself. She thought it wouldn't be fair for an Olympian to be competing in Senior Games...and then got beat in her return to the track in the 100 meter race. It's all good, Martha knew she was not in competition form, saying ‘I loved feeling that flutter of excitement again waiting at the line for the gun.” She vows to train and come back strong to qualify and make her National Senior Games debut in 2017!
We also found two happy Californians who each have earned international rankings resulting from their competition in five field events (called the weight pentathlon) held at the UNLV track stadium. Linn Dunton (left in first photo below) is now #2 in the world in the 55-59 division and Linda Cohn (on right) ascended to #1 in the U.S. for 60-64. Dunton was featured as a 2013 Athlete of the Month for her poignant story of beating breast cancer and returning to competition using her deceased mother’s throwing implements.
Below are additional images from track, cycling and racquetball. We left Las Vegas feeling like big winners!