Senior Games give athletes a place for friends, new adventures

Saturday, June 12, 2010 | 4:53 p.m. CDT; updated 12:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 14, 2010
Mary Clark, 61, pole vaults at the Missouri State Senior Games on Saturday at the MU Audry J. Walton Stadium. Clark's final vault height of 4'6'' made her eligible to attend the National Senior Games next year.

He doesn’t worry about qualifying for nationals, even though his scores have the potential to lead him there. For Johnston Ewing, the Missouri State Senior Games are a place to have fun and meet new people.

Ewing, 66, has been participating in Senior Games since he was 50. He loves pole vaulting, high jump, and triple jump. On Saturday, Ewing’s highest pole vault  was 8’6’’. He didn’t know if it was good enough to qualify for nationals, and he didn’t really care. He feels lucky to be in company of great people.

“These guys that I’ve met, they’re great guys,” says Ewing. “It’s camaraderie, you know? It’s just a fun thing.”

Although Ewing lives in Memphis, Tenn., he travels around the nation to participate in different senior games. He has attended the Missouri State Senior Games for about 8 years now.

“I just like to work out,” says Ewing. “I like to run, jump, and throw things.”

Staying active is important for Ewing. He tries to keep in shape by working out three times a week and trains for upcoming games at a high school track near his home.  He says he will continue to participate in senior games as long as possible.

“I’m going to keep doing it. I don’t see any reason to stop,” says Ewing. “I broke my scapula one time, but that didn’t stop me. If that didn’t stop me, I don’t know what will.”

Mary Clark enjoys senior games as a way to fuel her desire for trying new things.

“I like to do it all,” says Clark, 61. “When I see someone do something I haven’t done, I ask how to do it.”

Asking people how to do new things has led Clark to try many different events. Pole-vaulting started four seasons ago for her, after watching a woman compete.

“The woman said to me, ‘You look like a kid in front of a candy store with no money. You want to try it, don’t you?’ and I agreed,” explains Clark.

Clark competed on the second day of the senior games and completed a height of 4’6’’ in pole-vaulting, which qualifies her for nationals.

Clark will stay active by competing in other senior games throughout the year and is looking forward to trying even more events.

“Let’s see. What haven’t I done yet?” says Clark. “I might try a weight pentathlon. That’s shot put, discus, javelin, weight throw, and hammer throw.”

She looks forward to the friends she will make and the time she spends with those that inspire her.

“For many of us, there is a camaraderie and a socializing aspect, which is just as important as the physical fitness,” says Clark.

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