05/02/14 — Golden games

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Golden games

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 2, 2014 1:46 PM

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Carol and Bob Guyse hold hands as they walk around the track at the Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center during the fun walk portion of the opening ceremonies for the Wayne County Senior Games on Thursday morning.

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Pauline Gassaway

Irene Johnson took a quick turn and cut in front of the two senior citizens walking the track.

"I can't walk that slow," she said.

At 85, Mrs. Johnson doesn't need a walker or cane.

She can get around plenty fast on her own two feet.

Mrs. Johnson is one of hundreds of locals residents set to participate in the Wayne County Senior Games -- an annual event that kicked off Thursday morning.

But unlike many of the other participants, this will be Mrs. Johnson's first go at glory.

And while she doesn't expect to win during her "rookie year," being healthy enough to show up, she said, is a victory in its own right.

"If I came to win, I would have stayed at home," Mrs. Johnson said. "I'm winning since I got here."

Exercise is nothing new to the 85-year-old.

On a typical day, she covers roughly two miles walking around her farm in Nahunta -- or, when the pollen takes its toll, at the local YMCA.

But when she heard about the Senior Games, she thought adding a little competition to her life would do her some good.

"I figured I would never start if I didn't do it at 85," Mrs. Johnson said.

Several of her friends are competing this year, too.

But luckily, since she hangs out with a younger crowd -- competitors are split up by age -- she won't be pitted against them.

Donna Lanier is another first-timer, but unlike Mrs. Johnson, she won't be doing any running.

The 57-year-old would rather take her chances in the jewelry competition.

"The truth is, I'm getting older and I needed more stuff to do," she said. "That's why I was really excited for the Senior Games."

She did consider other events, but her bad knees convinced her to try more low impact sports.

And making jewelry brings her joy.

"I love it," she said. "It's a nice stress relief."

Unlike Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Lanier, George and Jane Pool, 85 and 80, are veterans of the games.

They have been competing in the event for at least the last 24 years.

So during the opening ceremony, they were yipping and yelling.

And when it came time to sign up for particular events, they decided to try their hands at almost everything -- shuffleboard, horseshoes, croquet, softball, billiards, putt-putt and their game of choice, corn hole.

"It's a lot of fun," Mrs. Pool said.

Bob and Carol Guyse, both 72, are also fixtures at the games.

But Carol has been satisfied, for the last decade, to remain a spectator and cheer her husband on.

"He does all the outdoor activities," she said. "He's the one who is sports-minded."

Bob's preparation for the games isn't too intensive.

In fact, the first time he throws a shot put for the games is the first time that he throws one for the year.

But that doesn't mean he isn't competitive.

"I don't like to lose," he said.