Longtime competitor, 85, prepares for her final Senior Games

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 6:08 p.m. CDT; updated 9:45 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Hella DeTrempe, who turns 86 next month, will be participating in the 2012 Missouri State Senior Games.

COLUMBIA — For someone who absolutely hated gym class as a child, Hella DeTrempe has an unusually thick binder stuffed full of medals, certificates and pictures chronicling her athletic achievements.

This year, the 85-year-old DeTrempe will be competing for her last time at the Missouri State Senior Games, which will be held Friday through Sunday.

Missouri Senior State Games Information

WHEN: June 8-10.

WHERE: Venues all over town including the Audrey J. Walton Track and Field, Cosmo-Bethel Park and the Hearnes Center.

SPORTS: 3-on-3 basketball, bowling, golf, race walking, shooting, soccer, table tennis, triathlon, archery, cycling, horseshoes, racquetball, shuffleboard, softball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, darts (electronic), pickleball, road race, skill contests, swimming, track and field and washers.

For details visit the Senior Games website.

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The games will be a comeback for DeTrempe, who was sidelined by a frostbite injury on her foot. After stepping in a cold puddle and without noticing in the winter of 2010, her foot required a skin graft operation that kept her in the hospital and off her feet for nearly two months. It also kept her out of competition until now.

Although various injuries over the years are the reason DeTrempe is stopping after this year's competition, she said she finally feels well enough to fuel her desires for competing one last time in the discus, shot put and, maybe, javelin.

"If you want something bad enough, you gotta do it," DeTrempe said. "And it's something I want to do."

In 1992, DeTrempe participated in her first Senior Games in Lee's Summit after being persuaded by her friends. She threw discus, footballs and shot put, doing well enough to earn an invitation to the 1993 National Senior Games in Baton Rouge, La.

"We practiced around in the backyard and we still did all right," DeTrempe said. "We didn't get any medals but we got an honorable mention."

Being active has been one of DeTrempe's key values and motivation to keep competing all these years.

"I admire those who don't sit on their rear-ends and sit around to die," she said. "I can't stand just sitting here and doing nothing."

DeTrempe has had a unique road to Missouri's Senior Games. As a teenager, she fled from Nazi Germany to Japan because she is half-Jewish. After World War II, DeTrempe moved around in the United States and Germany before finally settling down in the United States in the '60s. She moved to Columbia four years ago.

She won't be competing on her own. Her good friend, Mary Diggs-Bacon of Rosebud, will be coming to town to practice and compete with her. DeTrempe's son and daughter will be coming to town to help her prepare for the games and to volunteer for the Senior Games.

For DeTrempe, the thought that she will compete for just once more at the Senior Games does not faze her because she'll still be involved with the Senior Games through volunteering.

"I'll be all right," she said. "I'm still in there helping."

No matter what the outcome of her competition, DeTrempe said she will be still be satisfied because she fulfilled her last itch to compete.

"I can start a shop with my medals," she said. "I just want to have the feeling one last time."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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