By Hallie Kutch, Marketing Staff Assistant
Olympic great Jackie Joyner-Kersee once said “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”
Joyner-Kersee knows a little about persevering over perceived limitations. She overcame severe asthma to become arguably the greatest female athlete of all time. The world record Joyner-Kersee set in the heptathlon at the 1988 Olympics still stands.
When she says age isn’t a limitation, she means it.
That philosophy will be on full display Friday through Sunday when 400 dedicated athletes will compete in the Brazos Valley Senior Games at venues across Bryan-College Station. Admission is free. Click here for a schedule of events
The 50 years-and-older participants will face off in track and field, swimming, basketball, cycling, golf, 5K run, bowling, horseshoes, pickleball, disc golf, washers, table tennis, tennis, 3-on-3 basketball, cornhole and basketball skills. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in each event and age group.
These athletes seek competition to prove that health and fitness don’t have an age limit. Driven with purpose and dedication, they’ve dismissed boundaries and prove that athleticism and passion don’t have to fade as the years pass.
Here are a few of the fierce athletes who will be competing this weekend:
- Baker Lee Shannon of Houston is the oldest male athlete at the age of 91 years and nine months. He is competing in four swimming events – 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
- Barbara Chenette of Crockett is the oldest female athlete at the age of 81 years and three months. She is competing in the 5K run.
- Michael McDavid of Buchanan Dam is competing in 16 events – all in track & field – more than any other participant.
- Joe Durrenberger of Los Angeles traveled 1,484 miles to compete in four track & field events – discus, hammer throw, javelin and shot put. Durrenberger was a standout basketball player at Rice in the mid-1950s, setting a Southwest Conference record with 30 rebounds against Baylor in 1956 (with 32 points). He’s also an actor who has appeared in several movies and television series, including Everybody Loves Raymond.
- Jim Gerhardt of Houston, a 1952 Olympian, will compete in his fifth Brazos Valley Senior Games. He’ll participate in four track & field events — the discus, hammer throw, javelin, and shot put. Gerhardt placed 11th in the triple jump at the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He and Durrenberger are members of the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame.
- Joe Barger of Austin will compete in seven track events – 50M, 100M, 200M, 400M, 800M, 1500M and 5K run. The 91-year-old is a survivor of the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
- DeEtte Sauer of Houston will compete in five swimming events – 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 100 individual medley. Sauer has won 50 swimming medals in various local, regional and national senior games and is a member of the Texas Senior Olympics Hall of Fame.
Facts & Figures
- Total Athletes: 400 (268 men, 132 women)
- States Represented: 5 (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and California)
- Brazos Valley Athletes: 57
- Out-of-Town Athletes: 343
- Volunteers: 140
Participants by Sport
- 5K Run: 27
- Basketball: 6 teams
- Basketball Free Throws: 18
- Basketball Skills: 16
- Bowling: 37
- Cycling: 41
- Cornhole: 16
- Disc Golf: 7
- Golf: 29
- Horseshoes: 16
- Pickleball: 110
- Swimming: 23
- Table Tennis: 17
- Tennis: 14
- Track & Field: 92
- Washers: 13
This event couldn’t happen without our generous sponsors. We offer our sincere thank you to the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, CHI St. Joseph Health, Innovative Fitness, KIND Snacks, Piranha Fitness Studios, Pita Pit, Signature Care, and Waldenbrooke Estates.
Need proof that age doesn’t have to be a limitation? Pick your favorite sport and venture out to watch these inspiring athletes compete this weekend.
About the Author
Hallie Kutch is in her second year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.
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