Illinois has 465 old folks who will be participating in next month’s Senior Games. They’re all over 50, and many are over 70 or over 80, and they got there by winning the Illinois Senior Olympics in Springfield. “Every two years we have our games, and in the intermediate year is the qualifying year. To get to the National Senior Games, you can’t just show up. You have to qualify,” says Del Moon of the National Senior Games Association.
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This isn’t just shuffleboard and checkers either. Well, it is shuffleboard, along with other sedate events such as horseshoes and bocce, but the senior athletes also will be competing in events such as a triathlon, bicycle races, track and field, basketball, volleyball, racquetball and swimming. They compete in age brackets in five-year increments. Basketball has an 80+ category.
Among the competitors is Dorothy Sinson, 82, of Elmhurst. She competes in the triathlon, taking it up four years ago when it was offered in the gym she attends. She finished second for her age group – 60+ -- in the Chicago Triathlon. She says she competes because she’s upset that when she went to high school in Oak Park in the 1940s, girls couldn’t compete in sports. The games start July 19 in Cleveland.