Fair prmotes healthy aging

Karen Kennedy, a nutrition educator with the Curry County Extension Service, explains the food pyramid Wednesday during the New Mexico Senior Olympics Trek to Healthy Fitness at Clovis Community College. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

A group of silver-haired senior citizens filled a classroom at Clovis Community College, while another group attired in comfortable jogging suits and tennis shoes briskly walked the perimeter of the main building.

The Clovis Senior Citizens were participating in the “Trek to Healthy Fitness,” which was sponsored by New Mexico Senior Olympics Inc. The half-day activities included health workshops, health screening, a fitness walk and sports clinic instruction.

Mandy Owens, health promotions staff member, was on hand to greet participants and guide them to the appropriate place. “We are here to promote physical, mental and social well-being,” Owens said. “Healthy aging is our goal.”

The “Clovis Trek” featured classes on flexibility and arthritis, heart disease and medication awareness.

Across town at the Roy Walker Community Center, seniors aged 50 and up were participating in the basketball free throw sport clinic. Clovis resident and Senior Olympian Jimmy Joe Robinson instructed attendees in ball handling drills, warm-up tips and practice tips to improve shooting.

Robinson said he spent his career as a basketball coach in the public school system before coming out of retirement two years ago to coach the boys basketball team at Clovis Christian School.

“I don’t teach anymore,” Robinson said. “I just coach.”

The spry, 69-year-old said he also participates in several events at the Senior Olympics but enjoys golf and free-throw shooting the best. Rubbing his black, sweat-pant clad knees with a smile he said, “I just got brand-new knees … well artificial. I’m not as quick to chase the ball if I miss anymore.”

Owen said the organization likes having Robinson as a volunteer because he is good at conducting the basketball clinics. “He can make 92 out of 100 shots,” she said.

The humble Robinson reluctantly admitted he was the previous gold medalist at the State Senior Olympics, preferring instead to shine the spotlight on fellow competitors. Robinson fondly told the story of an 89-year-old contestant who shot underhanded.

“He used a granny shot because he lacked upper body strength,” Robinson said. “But he made quite a few and won his age division.”

Fellow competitor and Senior Olympian Jackie Young was across the gym demonstrating the correct form to use for field events. She confidently exhibited the proper way to throw a discus, shot put and javelin by hurling them across the gym floor. “I give people hints and teach them how not to hurt themselves,” Young said about her role at the clinic.

The athletic, 58-year-old was dressed patriotically in red warm-up pants with stars and stripes adorning a T-shirt, which proudly read Senior Olympian. Her closely cropped gray hair was topped with a baseball cap decorated with various Senior Olympic pins.

“I’ve been participating for five years,” Young said. “I was the state record holder in discus, javelin and shot put.”

The Senior Olympian said she would like to see more 50 to 60 year olds competing. “It’s more interesting than a treadmill,” Young said. “It is just fun competition.”