2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana Daily News

9 minutes reading time (1787 words)

Games Daily News - June 22, 2019

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In this edition:


Forever a Runner: Kathrine Switzer 

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to register and run in the Boston Marathon. Her steps through the race opened doors for women in sports. Since then, she has become an inspiration to female athletes throughout the nation.

Kathrine, who is a spokesperson for well being for Humana, first ran road race at the National Senior Games in 2017. She placed fifth in the women’s 70-75 5K on Friday and will return for the 10K finale on Sunday.  

“We are knocking back a lot of old myths,” Kathrine said enthusiastically. “People talk a lot about seniors like they did about women 50 years ago: you’re too weak, you’re too fragile and you look silly when you do it anyway. These are just myths.”

Kathrine believes that the Senior Games Movement will change the way older adults are viewed in society, and even how they view themselves. She has believed since her first marathon that she’ll be running for the rest of her life. Pointing to the example of 103-year-old runner Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, Kathrine suspects she will be running for a long time.

The founder of 261 Fearless, a global nonprofit foundation aimed to empower women and form local running clubs and activities, is now hooked on National Senior Games.  “People are so open and motivational, they don’t care about your gender, your race, your income or what you are, they’re just glad you’re here,” Kathrine says with a smile. “That, I believe, is a great example in a world of inclusion.”

She says that it is important that we actively age and continue to support and motivate each other. She refers to her mantra: Be Fearless, Be Free, Be Grateful.

“The more we move, the more we can do,” Kathrine emphasizes adding she is “incredibly grateful” for the opportunities that Senior Games offers aging adults to compete and have fun.

Kathrine gives thanks to all the volunteers and teams that have come together to make The Games happen, and has high praise for the job Albuquerque is doing with hosting the massive event.  

“I’m just glad to be here,” she says.

Story by Seairra Sheppard



From Olympic Track to Table Tennis: Sir Peter Snell’s Active Life

Though notable, being a top-five contender for the 2017 National Senior Games is perhaps Peter Snell’s least impressive athletic accomplishments.

Pete, as he likes to be called, holds three Olympic gold medals in mid-distance track running, plus two gold medals from the Commonwealth Games representing New Zealand at world athletic competitions from 1960-1964.

With that resume, you might assume that Pete is running track at The Games, but that is not the case. His passion now is table tennis, and he has come from his home in Dallas to Albuquerque this week competing  in mixed doubles with his wife Miki at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

Because of some injuries sustained when he was younger, Pete was forced to stop running. In the early 2000s, he picked up a new sport – orienteering. Orienteering required Pete and Mika to remain active and fit. As they aged, even orienteering became too physically demanding, but they knew they had to stay active. So, they picked up paddles and found their path.

“We kept up our fitness for nearly 15 years as a part of orienteering,” Mika says. “Now, we’ve phased that out – running and cycling – because it became too tiresome.”

Besides their mixed doubles play Friday, Pete will compete in doubles competition on Monday. When asked how he thought he was doing so far, Pete smiles slyly and says, “I better not say too much,” then winking and adding, “I might be getting too cocky.”

Pete’s story of unwavering lifetime activity drew in a crowd of fans to his and Mika’s mixed double matches. One competitor and spectator, Gary Miller of Florida, shared with The Games Daily News that the spirit of competition changes as you age.

“It’s about a community. We never lose our desire to do our best, but it becomes less about who wins and who loses, and more about supporting a community,” Gary observes, adding, “I’m kind of a spokesperson for staying active, and Peter is showing us just that.”

Story and photo by Tim Harris


Archery: Not Just A Kids’ Sport 

Five years ago, Amy Pack had never picked up a bow. Today, all the archers on the field at Balloon Fiesta Field greet her by first name at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

Amy first set out on her journey to becoming a competitive archer in 2015 in Oklahoma, when she wanted to get her nephews out of the house and off their electronics. She found an online deal and brought them to try the sport out. The boys weren’t impressed, but Amy has been hooked ever since.

“I loved it and I just kept doing it from there,” she recalls.

All it took for Amy to begin competing in archery was practice. As soon as Amy and her coach saw that her arrows were hitting the target, she was ready to step up to the line. She jumped into her first tournament at USA Archery Nationals. She has since competed in many other tournaments, including the 2017 National Senior Games, where she captured gold. While competing in Birmingham, Amy set the second-highest score in her category.

Amy says she enjoys The Games because it keeps people active and she likes meeting people.

“My friends are here from 2017, and I’ve made lots of friends in archery,” she explains from the shade of her shared canopy.

Amy practices every day, shooting between 200 and 400 arrows. Any spare time she has, she devotes to practice. She shoots in the barebow recurve division, which means she shoots a traditional bow without any sights or release aids.

“Barebow, I believe, is all just you,” she said. “You’re not relying on anything else. We rely entirely on our ability. It’s more pure.”

Story and photo by Gabrielle Hockstra-Johnson


Get Your Gear on at The Games

Enjoy your National Senior Games experience now and into the future! Bring home a wearable memory that shows you are a proud athlete with cool gear from the NSGA Merchandise Store. The main store is located in The Village, with satellite stations at many of the larger sport venues.There’s a wide array of items and designs to choose from, and you can customize them with sport-specific emblems and other images placed to your liking and imprinted on site.


International Champ Keeps Skills Sharp with Practice 

Agus Djajaputra has a lot of experience playing competitive table tennis. It’s a sport the 86-year-old native of East Java, Indonesia spends at least three days a week practicing to keep his mind and skills sharp, and he is excited to meet new people and compete at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

Agus started playing table tennis at the age of 16, inspired by his eldest brother who was a table tennis champion and passed along his interest and knowledge of the game to Agus. After putting in years of hard work, Agus continued to the Central Java championship and in 1953 won the Indonesian championship. The government later sent him overseas to play in Asia, where his success continued. After being a part of table tennis for many years, Agus had to take a break.

“When I first started playing, the paddle was made of wood, but I think it’s getting better and better. Now it’s so different, it is very hard to see the ball and sometimes the spin of the ball makes the return even harder,” Agus explains.


He moved to America in 1981 with his family, where his grandson Derek Johnson helped get him back into playing table tennis. Agus is always challenging himself and his skills by teaming up with players almost half his age. He recently played a doubles competition with a 47-year-old partner. The Moreno Valley, CA resident has qualified for the National Senior Games three times, but this year marks the first time he has been in the country to make it.

“For me table tennis is 40 percent art. You can only see the other side (opponent) a little bit,” Agus says. “You have to know the situation of your opponent and you have to make a quick decision; it is also good at preventing Alzheimer’s because it is so quick.”

Derek loves to see his grandfather so active. He has accompanied him to practices and tournaments and the duo have developed a close bond. By living a healthy lifestyle, Agus is able to spend time not just with the family he has now, but with his great grandchildren as well.

“It is a big deal because it keeps him active and healthy. He trains and prepares, and it keeps him going longer,” Derek says.

Story and photo by Hayley Estrada


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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