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Olympians return to Linden Ponds

Six resident athletes participate in annual Quincy Senior Olympics

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September 12th, 2014
Participants in this year’s Quincy Senior Olympics (from left): Becky Coburn (daughter of Linden Ponds resident Ted Coburn), Ted Coburn, Mary Roever, Ed Petcavage, and Gus Diezemann.
Participants in this year’s Quincy Senior Olympics

A growing number of Olympians now call Linden Ponds home. This year, three men and three women from the community competed in the 32nd annual Quincy Senior Olympics, bringing home a total of 23 medals. 

The ten-day competition saw the largest turnout yet of athletes who live at Linden Ponds and participated in events, including shot put, discus, javelin, bowling, bocce, darts, standing long jump, basketball throw, walking, and running. Those from Linden Ponds took home 21 gold medals in total, after competing against others in their five-year age brackets.

Athletic recruitment

The surge in participation can be largely attributed to recruitment on the part of Ed Petcavage, who lives at Linden Ponds and was encouraged to join two years ago by Gus Diezemann, who also lives in the community. This year, Gus lit the torch for his seventh Olympics. Gus added six new gold medals to his collection of 30.  

Gus spotted Ed on the treadmill at the Linden Ponds fitness center one day and, remarking on his speed, suggested Ed try his hand at the Senior Olympics. Ed took the advice, and in his first games in 2012, he won six gold medals. 

Since then, Ed has participated in the state games in Rhode Island, which accepted Massachusetts residents and qualified him for the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, last year. Ed placed ninth in the 1,500-meter speed walk and twelfth in the 5K speed walk. 

Ed competed in this year’s state games in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and qualified for the long jump and 1,500-meter speed walk in the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. He also hopes to qualify in horseshoes.    

Ed spoke about this journey in his keynote address at this year’s Quincy Senior Olympics. He credits Gus with the inspiration for getting started and for encouraging others to do the same. 

“He’s the one that got me all excited, so I’m just passing the favor along,” says Ed, who hopes to get twice as many Linden Ponds participants in next year’s games. Judging from the rave reviews from this year’s group, that feat seems likely.

Firsts and fun

“It was so much fun,” says Joan McGrath, who was a first-time competitor, along with Barbara Smith, in bowling and bocce. Both women also participate in Linden Ponds’ bowling and bocce groups. 

Between the walking clubs; fitness center; and bocce, billiards, and bowling groups at Linden Ponds, Ed thought the Senior Olympics were a natural fit for the community. What’s more, Ed says, “In a way, you have to be a speed walker if you’re going to be at Linden Ponds. Because there are so many events going on here, I find myself rushing between different meetings and groups.”  

But the games are an additional opportunity to try new things or sports that haven’t been played since high school. 

Ted Coburn, who lives at Linden Ponds, also participated with his daughter. Though Ted is a regular on the bicycle and in the swimming pool at the Linden Ponds fitness center, he had a few “firsts” at the games. 

“I’m active, but it was the first time I ever threw a discus or javelin or shot put,” he says. “I enjoyed it very much.” 

First-time participant Mary Roever took the gold in standing long jump and one-mile run, and silver in softball throw. “I had no idea really what was facing me,” she says. A tap dancer who also competed as a runner many years ago, Mary quips, “Nobody goes around doing the standing long jump.”

Gold-medal camaraderie 

Despite the competition and opportunities to medal, participants say the camaraderie and sportsmanship are the biggest takeaways. 

During the one-mile run, Mary was the only one in her age group, but she says, “Every time I did a quarter mile, there would be cheering—everybody was there.”

Ed has received pointers from fellow competitors during the games. “Everyone is helping each other out; you’re really competing against yourself and your body,” Ed says. “Everyone is cheering for everyone. Even if you’re coming in last, you’re getting cheers.”

Ed continues to train five days a week at Linden Ponds in the hopes of making it onto the podium at next year’s national games, but he adds: “Participation is the most important thing—it’s the fact that you’re out there and you’re participating and you’re active in physical activity for your health.” 

The events are also about sociability, says Joan. “I met a lot of people I felt like I knew forever—we laughed and talked,” she says. “I’m all set for next year; I can’t wait.”  

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