Breaking Good in Albuquerque: 17 American and 185 National Senior Games Records Fall in Spirited 2019 Competition
Track & Field Elite Kathy Bergen Leads the Way With Eight High Marks
ALBUQUERQUE, NM, June 25, 2019 – As the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana ends competition today, more than 202 new records have set a higher bar for future competition. In addition to 17 pending new American records, 185 National Senior Games records were shattered by 124 athletes in eight sports including track and field, swimming, cycling, triathlon, archery, road race, race walk and bowling.
The most decorated athlete this year is Californian Kathy Bergen with three American and five National Senior Games high marks. This was the ninth appearance at The Games for the 80-year-old track and field elite, and she equally credits hard work and being the youngest competitor entering a new age group (80-84) for her success.
Four athletes set two or more American records, and all are female. They are as follows:
- Kathy Bergen, 80, La Canada, CA
- 100 meter dash with a time of 15.98 seconds
- 200 meter dash with a time of 35.71 seconds
- High Jump dash with a height of 1.17 meters
- Florence “Flo” Meiler, 85, Shelburne, VT
- High Jump with a height of 0.91 meters
- Hammer Throw with a distance of 18.1 meters
- Colleen Burns, 70, McIntosh, NM
- 400 meter dash with a time of 1:15.68
- 1500 meter race with a time of 6:15.98
- Elsbeth Padia, 81, Belmont, CA
- Hammer Throw with a distance of 26.71 meters
- Javelin Throw with a distance of 20.12 meters
A total of ten individuals now hold at least one of the 17 American records set. Note that all records are pending until each sport’s respective sanctioning body officially certifies the results. See links for more
“Team Lobo” Interns Power Games Daily News and Discover Real Senior Moments
The Media Center for the National Senior Games performs many functions, such as handling local and national media relations, issuing credentials, collecting photos and video and managing social media. But the heart of the operation is offering The Games Daily News, the online platform of daily features and links that you are now reading this story on.
NSGA is grateful to the University of New Mexico and its Department of Communication & Journalism for helping us recruit a team of talented and bright students to give impressions of what The Games are all about. “I do not like the term ‘intern’ and prefer to call these rising stars ‘content generators’ for our operation,” says NSGA’s Director of Communications and Media Del Moon. “They not only go out and bring back interesting athlete and sport features, they also take photos, and some shoot video. They all gather social media content and bring back leads for future athlete features. This is a massive event with many things going on at the same time, so they become our eyes and ears.”
The cadre was dubbed “Team Lobo” after the school mascot, and the UNM connection goes deeper as Steve Carr, a supervisor for the University’s communication and marketing department, was provided on loan to be the Games Daily News managing editor. In addition to this core team, the Media Center also enjoyed the services of photography major Katie Stratman from Western Kentucky University and Vincent Pensabene, a sports management major from the University of South Florida serving as our sports information assistant.
“It’s always interesting each time to see how these young talents respond to their experiences of seeing highly active older adults enjoying their active aging,” Moon adds. With the promotion of our #RealSeniorMoments hashtag campaign in mind, we asked Team Lobo to share their own perspective about what they have witnessed:
This past week working for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana has been incredible. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of amazing and interesting athletes, and the entirety of The Games has inspired me.
On a personal note, I have been encouraged to take my own health seriously, and I’m no longer discouraged about growing older. I now have proof, through these fantastic men and women, that if I take care of myself I don’t have to be stuck in a nursing home at age 75, and that feels amazing. I felt so empowered watching the athletes excel at sports that I myself find intimidating (such as running a 10k). I’ve learned it’s never too late to learn a new sport, and that just like these runners, swimmers and cyclists, if I put my mind to something challenging and give it my all, then I can do it.
This experience, the people I’ve met and the challenges I’ve witnessed is something I will never forget. It will impact the way I age, and one day I, too, hope to race in the National Senior Games.
This opportunity has been a great chance to not only gain experience in journalism, but also to witness the excitement and inspiration these athletes have brought to my hometown. The motivation, determination and attitude of every athlete here made me realize that life doesn’t have to slow down with age. They showed me that it is never too late to pick up a paddle, run a mile or even to shoot the shot you’ve always wanted, even if there are challenges holding us back.
For me, every sport that I watched and every athlete that I spoke to made this entire experience so exciting and memorable. Before the Games started, I expected to meet athletes with incredible life stories about perseverance and strength, and I did. However, I wasn’t prepared to make life-changing friendships that I now have with many of the athletes.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first began reporting, but what I ended up learning is not at all what I could have planned for. The National Senior Games, as I understand it now, is much less about competition and more about the utility that staying active and competing adds to an athlete’s life. Nearly every single competitor I met gave me some version of the same advice: find something you love, don’t quit and keep moving.
Before covering The Games, my perception of sports was that they were grueling activities and athletes had to make immense sacrifices – both physically and mentally – to succeed in them. While senior athletes still make immense sacrifices to qualify and compete at The Games, what I now know the advantages for the athlete in return.
Just like the competition itself will have life-long impact on the athletes, their stories will have a life-long impact on me. I have seen what concern for one’s health and wellbeing yields later in life, and that fact is something I’ll never be able to ignore as I grow older.
Covering the National Senior Games has been such an amazing and worthwhile experience. I was able to meet and talk to so many amazing people who have been successful and found happiness with their sports. I was able to meet sibling teams, former pros, and people who have been competing for decades, along with those who just started.
Before I came to write for the Games, I knew seniors had the talent to compete, I just hadn’t realized as to what extent. To see the men and women on the track making new records, and players on the basketball court throwing elbows is amazing. They made clear as to how important it is to stay active through all stages of life. I looked at these competitors and thought “that’s where I want to be when I get to that age.”
Something that left an impression on me while at the Games was this quote on a competitor’s shirt: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing,” and to that extent, these amazing people have never grown old, and have inspired me to do the same.
Before the National Senior Games, my perspective on aging was completely different to what it is now. I thought after you hit 70, you were always in bed and could barely walk. Now, I know that is completely wrong.
Throughout my time being here at The Games, I was able to talk to many athletes who were well over 70, and it’s amazing how the athletes just keep going regardless of their health conditions or age.
During The Games I was able to experience these real senior moments of the athletes and be inspired by their stories on how they began playing the sports, even when they were 60 years old and older. I have never played a sport before, but always wish I had back in high school. Now, I know that it’s not too late for me to start.