Locals take aim at gold in Senior Games
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A number of local athletes aren't slowing down with age - far from it.
Twenty-one competitors from Charleston will take part in the Senior Games, which will run Friday through Aug. 1 in Cleveland.
Competitors had to earn their way into the games via state qualifiers, and around 11,000 athletes are expected to take part in 21 events ranging from track and field and swimming to basketball and Frisbee golf. The Senior Games are divided into age groups by every five years in age and are held once every two years.
Barbara Warren is certainly no stranger to the Games, having won four medals with a win in the hammer throw and eight ribbons (fourth through seventh place) in the 2011 games in Houston.
"I peaked in 2011 in Houston," Warren said with a laugh. "I wish I was going to do that well again this year, but I won't. Maybe in 2015 I'll be in better shape, but I will be ecstatic this year if I can win one medal and perhaps a couple of ribbons."
She also medaled in Louisville in 2007 and won several in Stanford in 2009.
Warren said she got started in senior competitions at an event called the West Virginia Senior Classic, in which athletes over 40 would run track and field.
A native of California, Warren earned a chemistry degree from Stanford and a doctorate from the University of Chicago before moving to Charleston in 1973 to work and research at what was then Union Carbide.
Along the way she married and had six kids that are now grown and spread out around the country.
She placed in 13 of 14 events in 2011 and, after the 50-meter dash was added, she qualified for 15 events this year, although a scheduling conflict at the Senior Games may keep her from competing in swimming events.
Warren's 15 events are the 50-meter run, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,500, 4x100 relay, long jump, high jump, triple jump, discus, javelin, shot put, hammer throw and pole vault.
Now 66 and coming off of a two-year stretch filled with injuries and migraines, her expectations for her performance have tapered some, but she will always have enthusiasm toward the event.
"It's just fun, it keeps you in shape," Warren said. "You fall apart. I took care of dad who was disabled until he was 92 and it gets hard when you get older."
Warren said the camaraderie and relationships she's made in her time at the Senior Games is more important that her results.
"It's fantastic," Warren said. "The ladies are amazing. You run into the same women every year. There's a woman who can throw a discus and a javelin over 100 feet and that's absolutely amazing. There are some really amazing people there."
Warren said she had always run to stay in shape, but since track and field wasn't available to women in high school and college in the past, she and many others had little to no experience with events like javelin, discus or hammer throw.
But after dealing with some injuries, she decided to give them a try, and with the encouragement of others and the help of Brandon Walters at the Charleston YMCA, they have become her best events.
"I didn't do that right away," Warren explained. "My ankles are so bad and I have flat feet and some of the women said, 'You should learn to do this, you can do these without running. Try it.' The first year I tried it and I didn't place in anything. Brandon Walters at the YMCA helped me train so before Houston we worked together twice a week. Because of him, I placed."
Other Charlestonians set to compete in the Senior Games include Jon Boggs (cycling, triathlon), Leno Boschian (basketball), Robert Carpenter (basketball), James Cook (basketball), George Davis (basketball), John Ford (cycling), James Foster (volleyball), Steve Fox (road race), Jeffrey Harlow (basketball), Joey Holland (basketball), Keith Holmes (basketball), Sherman Nearman (basketball), Sharron Nichols (softball), Thomas Potter (basketball), Sharon Southworth (golf), Donna Stonestreet (softball), Annabelle Tucker (shuffleboard), Brenda Valentine (golf), Harold Vealey (basketball) and Judith White (golf).
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.