Former Senior Games shuffleboard competitors become teammates

Friday, June 8, 2012 | 4:07 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — When Ed True pushed the puck, it didn’t look like it would even make it to the scoring area. But as it glided across the wax-covered floor, it seemed to pick up momentum.

“Come on, keep going,” William Cannon, True's shuffleboard partner, said.

The puck continued to slide until it finally came to rest, netting the two men eight points.

“Nice shot, Ed,” Cannon shouted to his teammate.

For about 25 years, Cannon, 82, and True, 80, competed against each other in shuffleboard. But now, they are on the same team as the only doubles shuffleboard team over 80 years old at the Missouri State Senior Games in Columbia.

Since the two men were each 55 years old, they have been competing in state and national games against one another. Through competition, they soon developed a friendship.

“I haven’t had any animosity, and since he asked me to be his partner, I don’t think he did either,” Cannon said.

When True began looking for a new shuffleboard partner, Cannon was at the top of his list. True said it was “awesome” to become teammates with Cannon after competing against him for so long.

“I would have liked to team up with him before now,” True said.

Competing as a team for only the second time, the two won each of their first two matches against challengers as much as 20 years younger.

Cannon and True say they come back to the Senior Games year after year to see friends and stay healthy.

“The majority of people do it for the camaraderie and the spirit,” Cannon said. “We have fun.”

Cannon and True have taken the spirit of the games and made it a major part of their lives.

With one of his friends, Cannon travels the country and competes in swimming events and various skills competitions, such as shuffleboard. He will compete in 10 swimming events this weekend, hoping to add more medals to his collection of more than 2,000.

True served as the Chairman for the southwest Illinois Senior Olympics for 10 years. He will also compete in various track and field events this weekend.

Both Cannon and True use the Senior Olympics as motivation to stay in shape and avoid health problems.

“People who compete in Senior Olympics seem smarter,” Cannon said. “Now I’m not saying, 'Competing makes you smarter,' but I think smart people participate.”

Both men exercise regularly and continue to hold jobs. Cannon works a part-time job as a managerial rep, while True teaches business classes at nearby colleges.

“Mentally, competing is stimulating for me,” Cannon said. “It’s a discipline thing.”

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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