Senior Olympics

By Michael Madison – March 1, 2012

Local Austin athletes will be traveling south on I-35 this spring for the Texas Senior Games (TSG)—an eleven day competition featuring 20-plus events for individuals who are 50 years or older. In its 21st year, the TSG provides athletes the opportunity to qualify for the National Senior Games held in Cleveland, Ohio over the summer.
“We plan to host at least 1,500 to 1,600 people in San Antonio,” said Cathy Pottorf, Director of TSG. In her 16th year on the job, Pottorf is excited to showcase all that is San Antonio. This will mark the first time the state games have ever been held in the Alamo City.

The events include staples such as swimming, track and field, volleyball, and cycling. But also on the docket are horseshoes, badminton, bocce ball, and shuffleboard. In total, 24 events make up the 11-day schedule, and the top three of each age group division qualify for the 2013 National Games. Age groups are divided in five-year increments beginning at 50 years old, and medals are awarded to the top three.

Full details for the TSG are available at, and registration is open until Friday, March 16. Participants are allowed to sign up for as many events as they desire, and no pre-qualification is necessary.

Sara Sievert
Most women her age spend their time at the retirement home socializing and playing bridge, but at 86 years young, Sara Sievert is still thriving in her Senior Games career. Moving to Austin from New York in the late 90's, Sievert saw an ad in a newspaper about a competition in Kerrville. She jumped in the car with her late husband Guy and headed west, beginning an illustrious 16 years that led to multiple national championships as well as being inducted into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame.

In San Antonio, Sievert will be competing in 3-on-3 basketball, swimming, horseshoes and shuffleboard. As defending national champion in the 100 meter backstroke, she is determined to not let an on-the-mend broken ankle slow her down. “My adrenaline is just so high when I’m out there,” the Hall of Famer responded when questioned on how she sustained the energy to compete is so many different events over just a few days. “It gives me a lot of get-up-and-go, and I get excited.”

Sievert's weekly training regimen includes visiting the gym four times per week, swimming, aerobics, and dance classes. She also serves as the President of the TSG, presiding over the board and representing the association at meetings across the country.

Marion Coffee Carney
Marion Coffee Carney can still recount the day her PE teacher told her girls were too feminine to play basketball or any other sports as if it were yesterday. That was 58 years ago in Dallas, Texas, well before any implementation of Title IX and only a few decades removed from a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. She contributes these slights from society as motivation to not just her but many female participants in the Senior Games.

"I'm a fan of the Games and what it has done for women," said Coffee Carney. "Most didn't get to play when we were younger, and now we finally have an opportunity."

Now 73 years of age, Coffee Carney is a multi-time National Champion and a 20-plus year veteran of the Games. She's a regular on the podium no matter the competition in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.

"I first got started with 5Ks and 10Ks but quickly decided I didn't like them," Coffee Carney said when discussing her foray into competitive running. "Then one day during training for Cap 10K, the coach told me I should be a sprinter because I looked like one and had speed."

That was all it took for her to drop the distance and head to the track—a decision that she remains very happy about.

Gerry King
Dr. Gerry King was a casual cyclist until age 53. That was 22 years ago when the former leisurely spinner was prodded by a few of his new friends at the Austin Cycling Association to enter a race, and he finally succumbed to peer pressure. Less than two years later, he won his first event and has been addicted to the thrill of competition ever since.

While he's in his twilight years of his psychology profession, King doesn't see himself slowing down on the roads any time soon. He'll be competing in the Senior Games this year for the tenth time and wants to keep going until he’s at least 80, if not longer. Should he qualify for Nationals (he has at every Senior Games), King plans to make the trip to Cleveland. His reason? "I felt it's time," he said.

King will be traveling to San Antonio with three other members of his Velocity Cycling team. They're a group for all ages who train together and travel across Texas competing in various races.


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