Gearing up for Senior Olympics

DeKalb County seniors are loosening up their muscles and getting their game faces ready for the 33rd Annual DeKalb County Senior Olympics.

The games will be held May 1-10 for residents ages 50 and older, and will include free-throw basketball, bowling, track and field, billiards, swimming, table tennis, line dancing, water volleyball and more. Events will be held at various venues throughout the county.

Participants may compete as a team or enter individual events and compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. Decatur resident Rick Crawford will compete for his fourth consecutive gold medal at the games this year.

Crawford, 68, participates in softball throw and football throw at the games. He said his competitive spirit is what made him enter the Senior Olympics four years ago.

“It feels good to win,” he said. “It keeps me going. I was ready to retire [from the games], but [my son] said to do it again.”

“It’s just something that I thought would be a fun thing to do,” Crawford said. “[Also] to get out and mingle and have a good time with my peers.”

Crawford said he has always been into athletics, from Little League to the college level. He was a two-sport athlete in high school—playing football and baseball—and he played baseball for one year in college. Crawford said he stays active by working out four days a week.

“I’ve been doing that for years,” he said. “I do strength training and cardio. The closer I get to the Senior Olympics I spend more time stretching and try to strengthen my shoulder a little bit because I’m throwing. At my age, sometimes it will cause soreness.”

Crawford said the games are more about having fun than being competitive.
“I thought it would be more competition, but you compete in your own age group,” he said. “Some of these guys are pretty good for their age.”

Crawford said he is looking forward to competing and seeing old friends again this year. He said he is thankful for the Senior Olympics because it keeps senior citizens involved.

“It gives us something to do and lets us know that we’re not a forgotten generation,” he said. “People really want to get out there and do something.

We want to continue to be active and this gives us a chance to do that and to also see how active and fit we are.

FitzRoy James, 84, will not participate in this year’s DeKalb County Senior Olympics, but he has fond memories of the times he did. Photo by Carla Parker

Although 84-year-old FitzRoy James will not participate in this year’s games, the former track and field star remembers what it felt like to return to the track.

[bctt tweet=”“When I went back on the track and met with the other athletes of my era, it felt good,” James said.” username=””]

James, a member of the Lou Walker Senior Center, participated in the DeKalb County Senior Olympic Games in 2010 and 2013. He won gold in the discus throw in 2010 and 2013 and placed second in the shot put in 2010 and third in 2013.

“I’ve always been in track and field sports and since it was for seniors, I thought it would be fun to go back and feel the atmosphere in track and field and get back into the swing of things,” James said.

James represented Trinidad and Tobago in track and field in the 1960s. He was the national champion in 1962—the first national champion in the triple jump from Trinidad and Tobago. He was selected to participate in two Olympic Games but did not go because the country did not have enough money to send him.

Participating in the Senior Olympics brought back great memories for James.
“Just being out there and competing one more time, it was good,” he said. “It felt good being back on the field again.”

“I think [the Senior Olympics] is a great thing for the county and I tip my hat to DeKalb County for having the Senior Olympics every year,” Crawford said. “It gets a lot of people involved.”

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