VANDALIA — Carol Cross of Huber Heights and Joyce Mason of Vandalia, both members of the Vandalia Senior Center, placed in the top 10 in the National Senior Olympics this summer.
Both also participated in the State Senior Olympics this year on June 12 in Westerville. Cross won a silver medal in discus and a bronze medal in shot put and in javelin. Mason claimed gold medals in shot put, discus and javelin.
Last year, they also participated in the State Olympics and both of them qualified for this year’s National Senior Games in Minneapolis, Minn.
At the National Games, they joined over 12,000 senior athletes, ages 50 to 100-plus from across the United States in their events which were held at St. Thomas University, in St. Paul, Minn. In the javelin and discus, Cross placed 10th. In the shot put, Cross advanced to the final and took ninth place. Mason, 77, placed fourth out of 15 competitors in javelin, fifth of 16 in the discus and 10th in the shot put. Mason said she missed advancing to the finals in the shot put by two inches. This marked Mason’s seventh trip to the nationals.
Mason said she did pretty well at nationals, though she was hoping to get a medal. She said she improved on her distances compared to her performance at the nationals in Cleveland in 2013 where she took bronze in javelin, sixth in shot put and seventh in discus. She threw six feet farther at national this year than she did at the 2013 nationals in javelin and three feet farther than she did in the discus in 2013.
“Even though I’m getting older, I’m still improving my distances,” said Mason.
She said competition is getting extremely difficult as some competitors in Florida not only have coaches, but can throw all year. Mason said she is self taught as she watched a library video when she first took up the javelin, an event she enjoys. She said luck is not a factor in javelin, like it is in bowling.
“There’s no luck in it, you just do it or you don’t do it,” said Mason concerning her three throwing events.
She later took up discus and shot put, watching library videos for tips.
“But, you develop bad habits when you’re self taught,” said Mason with a chuckle.
When Mason started the Senior Olympic circuit around age 56, she was first involved in bowling. She won a gold medal in singles bowling in Baton Rouge, La. in 2001. She still has the seventh highest score for singles in the 60 to 64 age group. She also earned a silver medal that year in mixed doubles.
Cross has been involved in Senior Olympics during the past five years, but has competed three years due to injuries. Both Cross and Mason have participated in senior strength classes at the Vandalia Recreation Center for many years. Cross noticed Mason practicing the throws in the field about five years ago and said she thought that “would be a fun thing to do.” About three years ago, with injuries behind her, she was able to fully commit to the three events, which paid off for her with her first trip to nationals this year.
“It was a fantastic experience for me because there are so many seniors there,” said Cross concerning nationals. “I’m inspired by some of the people that I see. I saw one man that was 102 years-old. He gave the oath of athletes. He’s still participating. You see 70, 80, 90-year-olds that are still participating — they are still doing something, they’re not sitting on a couch…I’m a believer in that — I’m an advocate for that.”
Cross said that it’s fun being with other people that have the same interests. She said she learned the javelin by “trial and error” and by watching U-tube.
Cross admitted she can’t spin around in the shot put like an 18 year-old can.
“We have to learn what we can do in a way that we can do it and still get decent results,” she said.
Cross, at age 73, still works as a lifeguard at the Vandalia Recreation Center during the non-summer months.
Cross encourages other seniors to get involved in events such as shuffle board, ping pong, badminton, tennis, swimming, baseball, track and field.
“I think a well documented fact is that part of living a long, healthy life is exercise and I hope I can exercise to some degree for many years to come,” added Cross.
Mason said she continued to participate in Senior Olympics in order to stay active.
“There’s nothing like exercise,” she said. “I’m competitive, I’ve always been involved in sports and you have to stay active if you want to stay young and healthy at on older age.”
Mason also said she was inspired by watching 90-year-olds and older participate.
“You have to keep active if you want to keep healthy at an older age,” said Mason, who in 2006 was inducted into the Dayton Miami Valley Senior Olympic Hall of Fame and in 2009 was inducted into the Ohio State Senior Olympic Hall of Fame.
Reach Greg Smart at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com