Athletes from the Taos County Senior Olympics returned from the 39th New Mexico Senior Olympic Games in Albuquerque July 23 with just enough time to visit the Fiestas de Taos before they shut down. The athletes had been competing all week at various locations within the Albuquerque metro area in all sorts of events. Balloon Fiesta Park was the site for opening day ceremonies.
Taos had a total of 16 seniors who competed in the games from Wednesday (July 19) through Sunday (July 23). Participants from this year’s team included: Nancy Delansky-Reed, Eileen Gardner, Paul Gonzales, Virginia Mondragon, Rufina Martinez, Rufina Gutierrez, Mary Koon, Sam Chisholm, Rosemarie Chisholm, Rose Martinez, Dennis Johnson, Leroy Naranjo, Mary Harvey, Rose Anderson, Medilia Martinez and Robert Graham.
Results from this year’s games were not available as of press time.
The mission of the New Mexico Senior Olympics is “dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles for all seniors age 50 and older through education, fitness and sporting events. Through Senior Olympics programs, the organization assists local games in achieving greater value and quality in the lives of local senior adults.”
Senior Olympic goals include: improving and maintaining health and wellness of senior adults 50 and older, focusing attention on the importance of regular exercise and constructive activity, celebrating the vitality of life through example, creating an awareness of opportunities that promote a healthy lifestyle and providing competitive athletic and recreational experiences at local, state and national levels.
In order to boost participation, the NMSO made some changes in its rules for athletes. Last year, seniors (50 and older) were required to qualify for state in their desired sport by participating in locally sanctioned games in the county in which they reside. A new policy adopted by NMSO’s board of directors in October changed this local games obligation and declared the 2017 State Summer Games to be “open.” This means that state athletes are no longer required to participate at local games in order to be eligible to register for summer games. Also, out-of-state athletes are now allowed to compete in New Mexico in any of the sports that are offered at the National Senior Olympic games. These include archery, bowling, badminton, bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, pickleball, race walk, racquetball, road race, shuffleboard, swimming, table tennis, track and field and triathlon. This open state policy will remain in place until 2020.
Local games will still be offered in multiple sites and will continue to be supported by the NMSO. Athletes are encouraged to participate in local games to practice their respective sports, to learn playing rules and to be familiar with the playing formats for competition.
The last local gathering in Taos occurred in the spring of 2016 and was spread out over the course of a month, with sporting events taking place during each of the weekends and at various locations in the area. The Taos Middle School track was the site for outdoor events, such as throwing for distance and accuracy and the estimated runs/walks. Two Gray Hares Disc Golf Course was the site for 18 holes of disc golf. The Taos Youth and Family Center hosted shuffleboard, billiards, horseshoes, table tennis and basketball games.
Along with individual sporting events, team tournaments occur throughout the year and at different locations. Volleyball will take place in Rio Rancho Aug. 18-20. Softball is scheduled for Sept. 8-10 in Las Cruces and basketball will return to Santa Fe Nov. 3-5. Currently, Taos County does not field any teams for these sports.
New Mexico State Summer Games return to Albuquerque in 2018, and the city will be the host of the National Senior Games June 3-5, 2019.
If there is any interest in joining, the Taos County Senior Olympics team meets at the Taos Youth and Family Center every third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.