Seniors stay active at 24th annual Gulf Coast games

ejohnson@bradenton.comFebruary 24, 2013 

MANATEE -- After four years of sitting out, Stanley Feingold returned to the track Saturday for the 24th annual Gulf Coast Senior Games.

"I think I'm recovered from cancer and I'm back," said the 77-year-old man, who spends his winters in Bradenton and summers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Feingold has been a senior games competitor for 14 years, taking part in the events set up by Manatee County Parks and Recreation for nine years.

Feingold was a track and field athlete, throwing shot put, hammer and javelin while in high school, and at Brooklyn College. He also coached a high school team for 12 years.

"Getting old is not a reason to stop. You just may be a little slower," Feingold said with a laugh. "A body in motion stays in motion."

Feingold was one of 480 people, from 50 to more than 90 years old, who participated in one or more of the 16 events offered this week. About 10 track and field events were held Saturday at Bayshore High School.

Until recently, Feingold competed in the shot put. Now, he does the 5K and 1,500-meter racewalk.

"I'm a competitive person," Feingold said. "I love the action, not only the 38 minutes here, but all the hours you put in working out."

Carole Homer, 72, feels the same.

"I like to win, but the most important thing is it motivates me to train," said Homer, who also participated in the racewalk events. "It's not real hard on your knees or hips, but it keeps you very fit and healthy."

Originally from Laramie, Wyo., Homer spends much of her time on Anna Maria Island. She's been competing in senior games since rekindling a relationship with her junior high sweetheart, Robert O'Brien, who ran the 200-meter dash.

"We've participated in state and national competitions all over," said Homer, who beat her 5K personal record with a time of 39 minutes

and 24 seconds. "You meet really nice people. Everyone is so alive and fit."

For Mark Ogles, 51, of Lakewood Ranch, competing in track and field events is a family tradition.

He, his father, sister and nephew have all won various accolades in running competitions. Ogles' daughter, Olivia, is the county sprint champion.

"I do this to have time with her," said Ogles, who also coaches fourth- and fifth-graders. "Soon they get faster than us."

Ogles won his age group in the discus, shot put, javelin and long jump events Saturday. He was preparing for the 50-meter race in the afternoon.

"A lot of these people were athletes in high school and college," said Chris Bratton, meet director. "Some were All-Americans or competed in Olympic events. This is a good time for them to showcase those skills."

Bratton thanked volunteers, including Bayshore High School JROTC members.

"It's nice to have the young students along with the seniors," Bratton said. "Those groups don't usually sit together in the same social setting."

The top five in each event and age division will move on to the state competition in December.

"It's just promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically, for seniors in Manatee and Sarasota counties," said Scott Jalwan, Manatee County recreation supervisor.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.

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