Above: Jeanne Daprano of Fayetteville, 81, set a National Senior Games record time of 3:59 in the 800 meter race for women 80-84. She won a total of four gold, one silver and one bronze medal in track and field running events.

Photo by Anacleto Rapping

Be a part of the action by volunteering at the Georgia Golden Olympics this year!

No age limit can hold back a competitive spirit. Thanks to the Georgia Golden Olympics (GGO), many older athletes have a platform to compete at a variety of sports and earn medals.

National Senior Games Gold medal winners Georgia Boys 60+ Team
Courtesy of Georgia Golden Olympics

The annual event is exclusively for people aged 50 and older. On Sept. 27-30, the Georgia Golden Olympics will be held in the City of Warner Robins, its home since it began in 1983. This is the 35th anniversary of the games, which were originally held in Robins Air Force Base, said Vicki Pilgrim, Georgia Golden Olympics Coordinator.

“Now the games are hosted by the Warner Robins Recreation Department and the City of Warner Robins,” she said. Contributors from around the state help fund the event.

One benefit of the Warner Robins location is where the city is situated in the state. “It’s about as close to the center of Georgia as we can get,” Pilgrim said.

Georgia archer Ed Brown competes at the National Senior Games.
Courtesy of Georgia Golden Olympics

Between 450 and 500 competitors are expected to take part this year, in events that range from tennis, track and field, golf and swimming to horseshoes, pickleball, billiards and Wii bowling.

“There are more than 20 sports and over 60 events represented,” Pilgrim said, “and bicycling is one of our most popular events.”

John Taylor of Atlanta
Courtesy of Georgia Golden Olympics

Each event is divided into men’s and women’s categories, then again into age categories that span five years, e.g., 50-54, 55-59, etc. Medals are awarded for first, second and third places in each category.

Pilgrim said that last year, the oldest athlete was a 100-year old swimmer, and this year, the oldest team registered for 2017 is a basketball team for ages 80+.

Georgia flag bearers in the National Senior Games Celebration of Athletes. (Left to right) Jim Hodges, 72, of Monroe, bronze winner in the Men’s 70-74 Pole Vault, and Theresa (Terry) Wietstruk, 52 of Bonaire, silver winner in the Women’s Archery Recurve category. 
Courtesy of National Senior Games Assn.

Winning a medal at the Georgia Golden Olympics isn’t the end of the road, either. From there, athletes can qualify to go on to the National Senior Games. Pilgrim said that Georgia was represented very well in the 2017 National Games, held this June in Birmingham, Al.

“About 600 athletes qualified to go to the National Senior Games from Georgia and 300 participated,” she said. “Every state and nine foreign countries sent athletes, about 10,500 of them, and the state of Georgia was 12th overall with a total of 157 medals.”

Every other year is a qualifying year for the National Senior Games. In the 2018 Georgia Golden Olympics, athletes will be able to qualify for the 2019 National Senior Games, which will be held in Albuquerque, N.M.

While registration for the 2017 Georgia Golden Olympics is closed, you can still get involved. The Golden Olympics is in need of volunteers. It’s a great way to help out and get inspired at the same time.

  • Golden OlympicsGeorgia Golden Olympics
  • Wednesday, Sept. 27 — Saturday, Sept. 30
  • Games held in locations throughout the City of Warner Robins area
  • For more info, call the Georgia Golden Olympics office at 770-867-3603 or visit georgiagoldenolympics.org.

Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.