Anybody who thinks getting older means slowing down needs to meet the athletes who compete in the Tennessee Senior Olympics.
The men and women who arrive each year for events from track and field to basketball to bowling are serious competitors with no intention of holding back. They have their eye on the prize — a gold medal and a chance to compete in the national games.
This year, four long-time Olympians were inducted into the Tennessee Senior Olympics Hall of Fame, along with a very special honoree who has strong ties to the event.
During the induction ceremony, it became clear that the Tennessee Senior Olympics are about something bigger than sports and competition.
The shared experience creates a bond among athletes and organizers that brings everyone a kind of joy that was palpable in the room as they spoke.
Meet the 2018 Tennessee Senior Olympics Hall of Fame inductees
Bo Deaton, 84
Softball, volleyball, baseball, horseshoes, field events, tennis
“The Tennessee Senior Olympics has been part of my life for the past 25 years,” says Deaton.
“I’ve met a lot of friends, I’ve got an extended family through the senior games.”
“I’ve won a few medals — and I don’t like to lose — but the important thing is not the medals you win, it’s the friendship and family you make along the way.”
John Disterdick, 76
Swimming, track and field, cycling, triathlon
“Athletics has been a tool for me to overcome so many obstacles that life throws at all of us,” says Disterdick.
“I remember in my boxing days hitting that bag until I couldn’t hit it anymore just to get the frustrations out. Now, with the Tennessee Senior Olympics, I really enjoy the ability to get out and meet people. That’s such a big part of this.”
“As long as the Lord allows me to stand on two feet, I’ll be here next year.”
Bill Lauer, 83
“Being a member of the Tennessee Senior Olympics is a great honor,” says Lauer.
“When you go to the national games, invariably Tennessee athletes outnumber the other states and, in many cases, we outmedal the other states.”
“That’s due to dedication and the support that all of the athletes get. It’s a great privilege to be part of this organization.”
Georgia Phillips, 89
Bowling, shuffleboard, horseshoes, shotput, discus, javelin, basketball free throw
“I’ve been in the Senior Olympics close to 30 years,” says Phillips.
“I’ve got a box full of medals and my daughter made me a wreath and put medals all around it.”
“All these years, I’ve enjoyed the games and hope to continue.”