2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana Daily News

11 minutes reading time (2129 words)

Games Daily News - June 21, 2019

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 In this edition:



Giving it the Family Tri

In 2017, the first athlete featured in the Games Daily News was Marion Lisehora, a longtime multisport senior athlete who has a unique history as a female jockey in the famed horse diving attraction that ran for decades at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Read her incredible story here.

For 2019, the story has taken another turn built around this amazing woman: all five of her children, plus a son-in-law, will form two sibling teams for the triathlon relay event that is being introduced for the first time at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana on Saturday morning at Cochiti Lake.

How in the world did this come about?

“We take our mother on a vacation every year, and we had talked about a family reunion in Florida with the five kids and family members,” Barbara (Barb) Lisehora Markelz explains. “With mom, myself, and Diane competing in The Games, and Jim driving mom, I had an idea that it would be very cool to make the family vacation in Albuquerque. Then, with this open event available, we thought why don’t we compete as a family?”

Thus, the 55+ Sister Act and 55+ Brother Act teams were born. Barb, Patty Lisehora Kane, and Diane Lisehora Milam make up one team, and brothers Jim Lisehora and George Lisehora will be joined by Barb’s husband Mark Markelz. Family members are converging on Albuquerque from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Hawaii. Marion, who is competing in volleyball and pickleball, will join other family members in the cheering section.

Barb first encountered a little resistance due to limited training and experience of the newbies to Senior Games, but the family decided they would do it for their health and fitness rather than focusing on competing for medals. “We are also doing it to honor our mom,” Barb says.

“We’re all very excited about it,” Marion says. “I think it’s just fantastic what they are doing!”

Post Script: As incredible as this family act will be, there is actually another sister act registered for triathlon relay: Jo’s Girls will bring Jane Taylor from Columbus, OH, Mary Ann White from Salt Lake City, UT and Patty White from North Falmouth, MA. Sibling rivalries, indeed!

By Del Moon (Photo courtesy Marion Lisehora)


Seven New Records Set in Relay Events on Final Day of Track & Field 

The closing day of track & field competitions at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana saw seven previous Games records broken with new marks. In the 4x100 meter relay teams are typically chosen after the event begins, so most runners have never run a relay together. The women’s side of the competition broke five records, while the men’s relay events broke two records.

In the women’s 50-54 relay, Colleen Barney, Jennifer Hedges, Gabrielle Johnson and Joy Upshaw clocked a 55.73 to best the previous record by a second. The 55-59 women first place group ousted the previous record by just half a second, making Jacklyn Slaughter, Adriene Allen, India Bridgette and Johnnie Reid a team of new record holders.

“I feel on top of 55 right now, on top of the world,” says Johnnie about the new record.

Relay competitors not only broke Games records, but they also exceeded the U.S. records as well. In the women’s 70-74, runners Sandi Rue, Brenda Matthews, Betty Schaefer, Kathy Bergen and Mary White broke the NSGA record by eight seconds and beat the U.S. record by two seconds.

In women’s 75-79, the previous record was also beat by eight seconds by the team of Mary Robinson, Carol Hicks, Marina Worsley and Hannah Buford. In the women’s 60-64 category, the Games record was bested by two seconds by Edelza Knight, Becky Bowman, Amanda Scotti, and Linda Wilson.

In the men’s 85-89 camp, the Games previous record of 1:35.10 was beat by 8.57 seconds by the team Bill Barnett, Donald Leis, Charles Milliman, Barney Brathwaite and Lloyd Kempf.

The men’s 50-54 record was barely surpassed by .3 seconds by Michael Bradeamp, Owen Barrett, David Gibbon and David Pitts.

“We’re shocked we even won,” exclaimed Michael.

Story and Photos by Gabrielle Hokstra-Johnson


Olympic Day Lives Up to its Name 

Athletes were able to meet U.S. Olympian Trish Porter, New Zealand Olympian Sir Peter “Pete” Snell and Mexican Olympian Vanessa Zambotti at the 2019 edition of Olympic Day at the National Senior Games.

The multinational panel shared their inspiring stories and key Olympic values while interacting with seniors and a youth group from the local YMCA in hopes of inspiring the youth to make healthy choices and to achieve their dreams. Dr. Becca Jordre, who steers the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) program, conducted an intergenerational fitness challenge that informed and entertained the crowd.

“My goal for Olympic Day is to motivate the seniors and youth groups from the YMCA to be active in sports,” says Andrew Walker, director of health and wellness for NSGA. “Being able to connect these groups together with the Olympians is very motivational. We are trying to re-frame aging for the younger generation and show them what you can still do when you are 80 and 90 years old.”

Andrew hopes to see some of the seniors attending from the YMCA participate in local competitions and come to the 2021 National Senior Games in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Trish, who participated in the 1988 Olympic Games in track and field high jump, was a 12-time U.S. Masters champion and a 4-time World Masters winner in the high jump. “Nobody knew who I was, but I was determined to get onto the Olympic team that year,” Trish recalls of her experience. Since then, Trish has written two books: King Here and Rekindle Your Dream.

Pete won three track and field gold medals representing New Zealand in the Olympic Games in 1960 and 1964 competing in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races, and is the only male since 1920 to win the 800 and 1500 metres at the same Olympics (1964).  “Athletes are not born,” he observes. They are made based on their background and exposure of sports.”

Pete has transitioned his sport interest to playing table tennis, which he will be competing in this weekend.

Vanessa is a renowned heavyweight judo fighter that has been in four Olympic Games from 2004-2016. She has won nine World Cups and competed in the PanAm Championships. She plans to continue in her passion for judo.

Story and photo by Christina Fitzsimmons


Badminton Players Renew Rivalry

Long-time badminton competitors David Hsi and Wolfgang Arlt renewed their rivalry once again on the court Wednesday at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

The 91-year-olds are no longer surprised when they see each other’s name on the bracket, having competed against each other in several Games. Both enjoy the rivalry and friendship they developed over the years.

David, an Albuquerque resident, started playing badminton as a teenager in his hometown of Shanghai, China before coming to America in the 1940’s.

David joined the badminton team at the University of Georgia where he graduated with a master’s degree in agronomy. Continuing his education, David earned his Ph.D in plant genetics and pathology at the University of Minnesota. While working as a professor at New Mexico State University, David focused on his career and his family, pushing the physical and mental game to the back of his mind.

“I didn’t think I would ever play badminton again,” David explains. “It wasn’t until I moved to Albuquerque and heard that seniors could play when I got excited about it again.” 

In 1979, Ernesto Ramos founded the New Mexico Senior Olympics where David was able to resume competing in badminton. David has attended the National Senior Games for several years, winning numerous gold medals in both the singles and doubles badminton competitions. David’s attitude and smile during games proves the fun he has on the court.

“My family used to play badminton as a group, relatives would come and we would have a great time,” David says. “My son is here playing volleyball now. I am very happy that we can be here together.”

Wolfgang has played badminton for over 50 years and started competing at the Senior Games in 1995. The accomplished player continues to inspire the crowd with his quick returns and cheery personality.

“I used to play tennis, but after I quit I found badminton in 1963. No one ever wanted to play with me because I wasn’t very good, but eventually I learned and I started to really have fun,” Wolfgang says.

This year, Wolfgang and David competed as the only two players in their 90-94 age bracket, resulting in a best of three game championship. With a shared love of badminton to keep them on the court, this rivalry should be one to watch for years to come.

Story and photo by Hayley Estrada

Greater Fort Lauderdale Pitches Fun in the Sun for The Games in 2021 

“Come for the competition. Stay for the experience. Bring your family for the fun.” Those are the messages being conveyed to athletes by representatives of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s host committee for the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

With the amenities in Florida, it should be an exciting destination for one and all. “Fort Lauderdale is known as a gateway to the Americas,” proclaims Jose Rodriguez, director of the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana. “You will find various cultures here such as the Native American Seminole Tribes, Jamaicans, Haitians, Cubans and many more. Latin culture is very predominant in this area,” he explains.

Jose says their plans all focus on the importance of the athletes and making sure they are the star of the show in 2021. “I have learned from being here at The Games in Albuquerque that it takes a lot of effort in many areas, such as hospitality, transportation and venues for The Games to be successful,” he expresses. “I have seen how active the city and state officials such as the Mayor and Governor have been throughout the event, so I hope to involve our officials as much as Albuquerque has.”  

Some of the amenities attendees can take advantage of include sightseeing, dining on a water taxi, exploring the coral reef, going on a Port Everglades Cruise, or catching a show at the local performing arts center. If you are feeling less adventurous, you can still enjoy “Floribbean” seafood cuisine on the beach and shop at some of the most upscale shopping outlets in the country, such as Sawgrass Mills.

“We are very excited to host the National Senior Games in 2021,” adds Carol Hudson, vice president of Sports Development for Greater Fort Lauderdale. “It has been 22 years since the National Seniors Games has been hosted at a beach location. Our vision for The Games is to incorporate our multicultural environment and showcase our beaches.”

Story and photo by Christina Fitzsimmons


Shuffleboard Celebrates Ability

Shuffleboard is a sport for anybody, says Karen Walker Brown. “I’m an example that anybody can play, and you can still have fun,” the 58-year old from Columbia, SC emphasizes. “I have issues with one knee, so it’s really easy for people to play the sport with a disability, or for those not able to run and jump or do other sports. I’m still able to participate and play a game, and I feel like I get better and better as I play.”

Karen has been pushing the disc for eight years after her mother engaged her and her sisters in the sport. She says the game is interesting because a lot of individuals and teams play on a consistent basis, and some like Karen only play a few times a year, such as at her South Carolina Senior Sports Classic and at National Senior Games, which she has attended three times.

Karen now hopes to lay down her own shuffleboard court on her driveway and become more involved in her local shuffleboard community. “I just enjoy the opportunity to come out here, compete, have fun and take off a week of work,” she says with a smile. “It’s a lot of work and can be tiring because we play all day. But it’s really fun.”  

Karen encourages everyone should get involved in their own local games, go to state and qualify to go to nationals. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” she says enthusiastically.

Story and photo by Seairra Sheppard

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