UPPER DARBY – These seniors play for keeps.
Delco is at the mid-point of the annual Delaware County Senior games and the action is heating up.
This year’s theme is “Play My Way” and residents 50 years and older of every skill level are encouraged to participate.
This past week athletes competed for medals in a variety of sporting events including table tennis, corn hole, pickleball, and bocce this week.
A visit to the Watkins Center on Thursday showed the competitive spirit contestants have in staying active, vital and having a good time.
Competition in ping pong is determined by age groups 50-60, 60 to 70 and 80 and above.
“There is a lot of good competition,” said Andrew Lewis,69. “It’s very lively.”
For members of the Upper Darby Table Tennis Club which plays on 8 tables at the center three times a week, having the Senior Games at the Watkins Center is a chance to welcome new members.
Gary Barton, 60 seemed to me smashing every shot that came his way but he said most of the people in the club are better than him.
“I love it, I’ve been doing it since I retired, you meet nice people, have a good time,” said Linda Zappacosta,71 years young who is a resident of Chester. “I only play ping pong during Senior Games but I’ve been holding my own. Some when they really get playing the balls go flying.”
Zappacosta said she won gold in bocce on Monday and was planning to compete in the horseshoes but that was rained out. Next week she will compete in shuffleboard and 200 meter and mile walk, football and softball throw and long jump in track and field.
Ying Wu, 76 of Havertown said she started playing tennis in 2010 and before she knew it three times a week. Her husband Ping Ly,76 organizes the Upper Darby club table tennis club and he said having the Senior Games at the Watkins Center is a chance to welcome new players that might want to become regulars.
At the center table Dave Hirst,84, and Estaban Abarintos,81 of Upper Darby were in competition.
“We are the best old players here,” laughed Abarintos, who is also competing in golf and track and field.
The games encourage older residents to stay socially and physically active throughout the year and achieve their personal best. The games also foster friendships among the athletes.
Science has shown that moderate physical activity can help older Americans improve mental capacity, prevent disease, improve healing and retain better balance- an important way to avoid falls. It all adds up to increasing life expectancy.
The coming week will see more exciting competition with Wii Bowling, Swimming, shuffleboard, golf, doubles bowling, mini golf and wrapping up with track and field at Garnet Valley High School on Friday
Registration for the games is $15 and is open to all Delaware County residents 50 and older. Registration is required for all events. Registration forms, schedules and more information on the games are available at the Parks and Recreation Office in Rose Tree Park, at local libraries and senior centers and online at www.delcoseniorgames.org.