Over the last 10 days, over 1,500 athletes, age 50 and over, have competed in 24 sports and events across the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. The 2019 Florida Senior Games is the first of a two-year commitment in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area and the 2021 National Senior Games will also be held in the area, in November 2021.
The day began with temperatures in the 60s, the coolest of the week, under clear, blue skies at the Ansin Sports Complex for the running events of Track and Field. The weather conditions were favorable for the athletes as 11 age group records fell, eight men’s and three women’s marks.
Alan Wells, of Orlando, established two new records, circling the track, in the 800 and 1500 meter runs in the 55-59 age group. In the 800-meter run, his time of 2:15.90, topped his own mark, set in 2018, by two seconds.
While heading toward the finish line, for his 1500-meter record-setting time, Wells clipped the railing with his left foot and nearly stumbled. He was able to recover and posted a time of 4:53.60, more than five seconds better than the previous record, set in 1994.
“I was so focused on the finish line and looking at the clock to see where I was in breaking the record, I hit the railing,” Wells said. “Wearing the metal spike, you usually slip on the metal rail. I was lucky I didn’t fall.”
Wells, a former top-ranked 5K Road Race runner in Masters Track and Field rankings, turned to running on the track in the Florida Senior Games, and now holds the 800- and 1500- meter run records in the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups.
While Wells may have been the record-setter of the day, the celebrity of the meet Sunday was 97-year old Mary Kemp, formerly of Boca Raton, who ran the 50, 100 and 200 meter dash and was the anchor of a 4x100 relay team.
As Kemp made her way toward the finish line in each of the races, spectators and fellow athletes cheered enthusiastically. Once she crossed the finish line, athletes and fans of all ages gathered around her to take photos and tell her she was an inspiration.
After the first of her three gold-medal winning races in the 95-99 age group, Kemp shrugged off the compliments saying, “I was a little wobbly out there.”
After receiving his 2018 Male Athlete of the Year Award, Brian Hankerson, of Hollywood, left the track to attend the christening of his grandson. He returned for the final event of the day, the 200-meter dash, to set a new record in the 60-64 age group with a time of 26.16. It was his fourth record-setting performance of the weekend after establishing new marks in the high jump, long jump and triple jump on Saturday.
Over the course of the weekend a total of 17 age group records were set at the Ansin Sports Complex in field events and running races.
After four days on the court, Tobias Kaye, of Boca Raton, finally won gold medals, teaming with George Goebel, of Jensen Beach, winning the Men’s Doubles 65-69 age group and a Mixed Doubles gold. From Thursday through Sunday, Kaye played 15 matches total, nine on the pickeball courts and six on the racquetball courts.
Kaye and Goebel, who were silver medalists at the 2019 National Senior Games, won both of their age group, round robin format games in straight sets. Kaye also teamed with Arlynn Abramson, of West Palm Beach to win a gold medal in the Mixed Doubles 65-69 age group.
After winning three golds and a silver medal in Field events at the Track and Field meet Saturday, Avis Vaught, of The Villages, took to the Volleyball courts and won gold medals playing for two teams.
Vaught won a gold medal with the 70+ Diamonds team and also won a gold medal with the 55+ Twisted Sisters team. Florida Senior Games rules allow players to be on two teams as long as they’re not in the same age group.
“I played with the 70+ team until they were finished and then I jumped over to the 55+ team,” said Vaught, the 2010 FSG Female Athlete of the Year.
Also pulling the Track and Field/Volleyball double duty was Sandra Gardner, who won a 60-64 age group Pole Vault gold medal and a silver medal in the high jump on Saturday. She was on the volleyball courts on Sunday for the 60-64 age group Beaches gold-medal winning team.
The 2020 Florida Senior Games presented by Humana return to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, December 4-13, 2020, as a qualifier for the 2021 National Senior Games, to be held in the area in November 2021. Florida Senior Games Series Qualifiers for 2020, the starting point for the 2021 National Senior Games begin in January. A list of Florida Senior Games Series Qualifiers can be found at https://floridaseniorgames.com/all-sports-schedule/.
With the 2019 Games concluded, we also invite each of our athletes, directors, and spectators to provide feedback of your experience at the 2019 Florida Senior Games presented by Humana. The survey is live from now until January 15, 2019. Click here to take the 2019 survey.
For the latest information on the 2019 Games, visit our website: http://www.FloridaSeniorGames.com. Follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily images and reports highlighting the 2019 Games