MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Athletes from around the country are in the Twin Cities to show that age does not have to slow you down.
Minnesota is hosting the National Senior Games for the first time. The Olympic-style event — which is held every two years — is open to anyone over the age of 50.
More than 10,000 athletes will participate in 19 different events over the next two weeks.
To excel in a sport it takes talent, dedication, and determination.
“I put in eight to ten hours of badminton a week and probably three hours of strength training,” athlete Mike Hilliard said.
The one thing competitors do not need is youth.
“I probably prepare more now than I did in college,” Hilliard said.
At 62, Hilliard can play badminton with the best of them. He won a gold medal and two silver medals two years ago at the last Senior Games.
“I’ve worked really hard the last couple of years,” Hilliard said.
Anita Macias-Howard hopes to find herself on the medal podium yet again. The former runner won bronze two years ago and silver two years before that in the sport of race walking.
“I’m finding there’s more and more competition in the Senior Games,” Macias-Howard said. “There’s more people doing this stuff.”
Race walking gave 60-year-old Macias-Howard a goal when she thought her competitive years were behind her.
“Our bodies change, and I’m going to get slower, I know I am, but I like to have that challenge to stay as fit as I can possibly stay,” Macias-Howard said.
These athletes have found aging muscles can still handle a hit or two.
“It’s one of the most physically-taxing sports because you have to have endurance, speed, real quickness, everything,” 53-year-old judo competitor Brad Daniels said.
He brings 40 years of experience to his judo match, and often sees his age as an asset.
“I just love to do it, I love to compete,” Daniels said.
They may be in their golden years, but that will not stop these athletes from going for gold.
“It’s the competition, it’s getting ready, it’s being here,” Macias-Howard said. “I mean, it’s just a joy.”
The National Senior Games run through July 15, and the different events will be held at several locations around the Twin Cities.
It is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.