When asked her age, Carver playfully teased, “Well, you have to be over 50 to compete.”
The NSGA is a national, non-profit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles for adults age 50 and older, through education fitness and sport. The games began in 1985, and are held every two years. They are a recognized member of the United States Olympic Committee.
This year’s games were held Aug. 1-15, at sites across California. Almost 13,000 athletes were estimated to have participated in more than 800 events — including medal competitions in archery, badminton, basketball, bowling, golf, softball, swimming, triathlon and volleyball.
“Four years ago, my daughter found a Web site that mentioned it, but it was too late to enter it that year. So the next year I went to the regional in Columbus, still not knowing anything about them. I just strolled in and started running and jumping,” Carver said.
This is the third year Carver has competed in the Ohio and Kentucky state games. She competes in long jump, high jump, triple jump, 100-yard dash, 200-yard dash, and said she’s just now starting to compete in the javelin event.
“These people have been into it for years, and have trainers, and they’re into it kind of serious. I just started running and jumping. I never got to run track. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and still don’t,” Carver said. “Females couldn’t run track in high school. There wasn’t any. I had never run before.”
Despite her inexperience, Carver kept at it and last year she qualified in seven events at the Senior Games in Ohio and Kentucky.
“I’m extremely fortunate to be healthy enough to do this. Most of my friends can’t walk up steps, much less jump. Old women don’t just run and jump. It’s really a fun thing to do when you’re healthy enough to do it,” Carver said.
At the national games at Stanford University’s track, in the San Francisco Bay area this month, Carver earned herself a gold medal in the high jump event, and silver in a triple jump event. She also placed fourth in the 200-yard dash finals and fifth in the 100-yard dash finals.
“I canceled out of race walk because it was later in the week and I came on home rather than sit there for two days waiting to race walk,” Carver said.
She said many people don’t understand what the Senior Games are all about, and said some even confuse it with the Special Olympics.
“It’s a very impressive thing because there are 85- and 90-year olds ... there was a 94-year-old still pole vaulting. There was a 100-year old still playing tennis. They’re just unbelievable. It’s very impressive. Here, you mention it and they think of the deal at the fairgrounds,” Carver said. “I guess they think I’m sitting there playing checkers, I don’t know.”
This year’s state games in Kentucky will be hosted in Paducah at the end of September, and Carver hopes to participate again.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who are healthy enough to do it, if they were just aware of where to go. All you got to do is go run,” she said.
More information about the NSGA can be found online at www.2009seniorgames.org.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.