Two residents will represent Lorain County in this year’s National Senior Games, which kicked off last night in Cleveland.
“Senior” does not refer to their skill level, although the top players from around the country will show off their skills in 19 different sports. Rather, it is a reference to age.
Starting in 1987, the National Senior Games Association has hosted state and national games throughout the year. Keeping adults active and healthy is the association’s main goal.
Men and women 50 and older play in regional games throughout the prior year to qualify for the national level. This summer, 10,100 athletes will come to Cleveland to compete.
Two residents of Lorain County’s Wesleyan Senior Living will participate.
Bill Clark, 87, will play singles table tennis July 30, and Walt Westermann, 99, will play golf Tuesday and shuffleboard July 29.
“I always look forward to the event,” said Westermann, who started competing in 1994. “I like meeting other people my age for camaraderie.”
Kentucky-born Westermann has played in local and state matches, and one national game. Today, he owns 90 medals, most of which he says are gold. Reflected in the number of awards he has, Westermann describes himself as competitive in everything he does.
“I had two older brothers so I had to compete to get what I wanted,” Westermann said.
Although originally a baseball player, he later in life switched to practicing golf, which is now his favorite sport.
“Being active is a good thing,” said Westermann, who often played golf with his son. “And it’s with other people, which I like.”
In 2005, Westermann and his wife moved back to the county, an area that he always called home.
Fellow Wesleyan resident Clark, who grew up in Ohio, moved to the county in 2005. This summer will be Clark’s first national table tennis competition and he says he is looking it.
Clark’s ping-pong career first began when he was 12, when not many people were playing, according to him. Clark improved his skills in the sport while serving on a Navy minesweeper ship in the Pacific during World War II.
“It’s a very enjoyable game that you can play at any age,” Clark said.
He was introduced to the Senior Games when his son, whose age qualifies him to participate, suggested they compete in doubles. Although the father-son team did not make it through the regional rounds, Clark was invited to play singles table tennis in the national games.
He says this summer, 20 men will compete in his age group and six of them are representing Ohio.
As well as Clark and Westermann, Cleveland Heights City Councilwoman Mary Dunbar will compete in the 70-to-74 women’s bracket for swimming and cycling.
The games will continue through Aug. 1 in several venues throughout Cleveland. For more information, visit: http://www.nsga.com/national-games.aspx.
Contact Elizabeth Kuhr at 329-7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.