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Published: Sunday, 6/11/2006

Competitors discover time is on their side

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jack Ragan of Swanton warms up with the discus before his event at the 50+ Sports Classic. Mr. Ragan was one of more than 110 people 50 and over to compete in the annual event. Jack Ragan of Swanton warms up with the discus before his event at the 50+ Sports Classic. Mr. Ragan was one of more than 110 people 50 and over to compete in the annual event.
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Even at 91 years old, John Boesenhofer laments dropping even one second from his time running the 100-meter dash.

"Oh, I was a second and a half slower than last year," Mr. Boesenhofer said while still catching his breath. "I couldn't keep the speed up."

The West Toledo resident was one of more than 110 people competing yesterday in the 50+ Classic, held at St. Francis de Sales High School. The event formerly was called the Senior Olympics.

There was the occasional joke about needing Ben Gay ointment or "Whoa, don't break a hip," shouted from the bleachers, but most of the day was serious competition.

After the 100 meter dash, Mr. Boesenhofer competed in the long jump, shot put, discus, and javelin.

He is something of a local senior athletic celebrity.

Last year, he won gold medals in the long jump (8 feet 5 1/4 inches) and shot put (24 feet 10 1/2 inches) in the 90-94 age group at the national Senior Olympics, held in Pittsburgh.

The Classic yesterday included track and field events, volleyball, basketball, a softball home run derby contest, softball, swimming, table tennis, bowling, tennis, and, of course, golf.

The events were separated into age brackets of 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, and 90+.

"Whether they are here to compete or just have fun, our main goal is to promote healthy aging and exercise," said Justin Moor, of the Area Office on Aging, which operated the event.

Neil O'Malley, 64, came from Port Clinton for the discus throw, an event he did in high school.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who is 67, opened the event by carrying the ceremonial torch onto the high school field.

The mayor talked about how he doubled his own exercise routine after he faced health problems.

"I'm just getting a little older and this helps me stay in shape," he said. "You never really lose your form, but you do lose some strength."

Ruth Williams, 74, said she takes the swimming competition seriously and it's a good way to stay in shape.

She competed in the 50-meter backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.

"It's a good way to keep seniors active, plus it's nice for all the people you meet," she said.



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