Personal Best Features “Comeback Kate”
The 2020 class of Personal Best feature athletes grows this month with another inspiring profile of courage, determination and positive action to advance and overcome life challenges and obstacles. That’s what we call a Personal Best lifestyle.
Kate Fisken’s story is about her own triumphant return to swimming, but also about her spirit of volunteerism and caring that has also impacted the lives of many. Her dedication to serve others goes back to her participation in Peace Corps, and continues to this day with activities like board service for her masters swim group, Maryland Senior Olympics, and the NSGA Board of Directors.
Enjoy getting to know Kate in this extended interview feature, and watch for more stories to come during 2020!
2020 Open Sports: 8v8 Soccer
The 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana will feature three new Open Sports, meaning qualifying is not required in order to encourage higher participation in a new sport. They are 8v8 Soccer, Cornhole and Beach Volleyball. This month, we introduce 8v8 Soccer.
The 8v8 Soccer competition in Greater Fort Lauderdale will have both men’s and women’s age divisions. The 8v8 format requires fewer players to form a team and is played on a smaller field footprint. There is also opportunity to touch the ball more, get great exercise, contribute more to the game and have more playing time.
“There’s no doubt that the interest and performance of soccer is growing at a rapid pace in the United States,” Hlavacek says. “There are over 250,000 adults participating in adult leagues across the country, and interest in the sport is particularly high in southern Florida where The Games will be held.”
The soccer sport rules are posted in the Rule Book on our website under the National Games tab. We are currently working with the Greater Fort Lauderdale local organizing group to solidify soccer dates and venue. Stay tuned!
2020 Qualifying Has Begun
The journey to Greater Fort Lauderdale begins with qualifying, and the action is already underway! Arizona is now halfway through their schedule, with some events still open for registration if you hurry. MS and TX begin holding events in March, with four more states opening in April- AL,CT,DC, and MD. Many states spread out their games over multiple dates, so make sure to check each Member Game’s schedule and registration information to find your sport and deadlines to enter. Note that while most states have published all information, a few event sport dates for later this year may still be pending.
We recommend you follow the link below for State Information, which will lead you to individual Games links and downloadable general state schedule and contacts.
For the 2021 National Senior Games we recommend you visit the website for the updated sport rules and format changes.
February Athlete of the Month
Leonid’s Table of Good Health
Leonid Sukher has enjoyed table tennis since childhood. Growing up relatively poor with no access to equipment, he and friends made paddles out of scrap plywood to play. Little did he know as a youth that getting serious about his game would help regain his health later in life.
Born in Ukraine in a small town between Kiev and Odessa, Leonid emigrated with his wife and family members to the United States in 1998, moving from Chicago to Brighton, Massachusetts two years later for an engineering job. He continued to play recreationally but did not enter competition until 2007 when his doctor warned of high cholesterol and prescribed medications. “He recommended I should have more physical activity,” he says with a thick accent. “I had to stop sitting around so much, eating popcorn. I knew to compete you must participate, join a club, go to practices. I did and played my first local tournament that year.”
Leonid became a regular at the Boston Table Tennis Center in Medford and made his first National Senior Games appearance in Palo Alto in 2009. To date, he has won two gold and one each silver and bronze for medals. His brother Alexander plays badminton and the two have been at The Games together four times since then.
“He has won more medals at Nationals than me, so it’s a sibling joke between us,” he says with a laugh. “He’s a bit older and much stronger in his play than me, so maybe I have time to get more. But we are lucky that sometimes our schedule overlaps and we can spend time watching each other.”
Leonid, 70, enjoys playing with athletes of his own age and above but has also found partners in lower age groups as low as the 50-54 level. “I was just a bit luckier to win more medals when playing doubles with partners in lower age groups,” he says. “Also, there some luck for me to have a partner from a lower age group willing to play with me. I learn something from them, and they learn from me. It does help to improve my game.”
Some not close to table tennis might not think of it as an exercise sport, but Leonid is quick to point out that it requires a strong body and mind to coordinate actions. “Your brain is working, your eyes are working, your body is working. You have to react to the ball instantly in the moment and know what to do. I definitely think it might help prevent illnesses like Alzheimer’s.”
Another benefit from his participation is the friends he has made, and Leonid has given back by serving as the Table Tennis Event Manager for the Massachusetts Senior Games since 2014. One of his most coveted accomplishments is the achievement of a 2000+ USATT ranking, and he has competed in several national and world competition events, most recently the 2018 World Veterans Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas. “The USA Table Tennis organizers provided us with uniforms, and now I put mine on every time I play,” he says proudly. He will again compete in the event being held this year in Bordeaux, France.
The bottom line for Leonid is that he found an activity he loves that will keep him active and socially engaged for the rest of his life, and he credits his new sporting life for recovering his health. “If I do not play for a while I don’t feel so comfortable,” he says. “But when I play regularly, I feel so much better. The most important thing is you improve your health.”
We want to hear more great stories! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Senior Games Heart Health News and Mayo Clinic Views
February is Heart Health Month and we have an informative article below sharing expert views from the Mayo Clinic. First, we have some hearty good news for participants in National Senior Games.
Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) screening data from Drs. Brisk, Jordre, and Schweinle show that Senior Games athletes have significantly lower cardiovascular disease compared to their age peers. Seniors in sports with high cardiac output have less compared to those in sports with low cardiac heart output. High cardiac output athletes have lower waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass measures. Sports with low cardiac demand, such as field events, softball, shuffleboard, golf, bowling, and archery will benefit from aerobic activities.
Please follow the link for NSGA/SAFE’s Cardiovascular Training Tips for Athletes over 50.
Fitness and Weight Control Both Matter for Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, is it better to be fit but overweight or to be of normal weight and sedentary? According to new research, compared with being fit and of healthy weight, both combinations increase your likelihood of having risk factors for heart disease.
The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, involved adults over age 70 who were part of a database in Norway. About 900 men and women were assessed for physical fitness — using a treadmill — and body composition, including body mass index (BMI).
The study also determined who had — or was being treated for — undesirable cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or elevated fasting blood glucose, a marker of diabetes. Anyone with or being treated for any two of these risk factors for cardiovascular disease was considered at high risk of developing a cardiovascular problem such as heart attack or stroke.
Not surprisingly, people who had a BMI of 25 or less and good fitness — such as at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise performed five days a week — were the least likely to be at high risk of cardiovascular disease. In the table below, you can see how risk climbs with lack of fitness, being overweight or both.
While this study shows increases in the likelihood of risk factors for cardiovascular problems, it didn’t look for – or quantify – the increased risk of actual cardiovascular events. In this regard, Mayo Clinic doctors say it’s important to recognize that it’s never too late to change for the better in terms of weigh and activity.
Shared with permission from the Mayo Clinic Health Letter
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