Sparta seniors run away with Olympic victory

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    Sparta - Sparta is home to some of the most athletic senior citizens in northern New Jersey. For the third year in a row, township residents won first place in the Senior Olympics. The June 3 event was held in Pequannock, and featured competitive tee-ball, soccer, horseshoes, and frisbee golf. Seniors also participated in shuffleboard, soccer, and even a chicken throw in the hopes of leading their teams to victory. Squads from Rutherford, Pequannock, Randolph, West Milford, Hasbrouck Heights, and Sparta have all taken part in the annual competition since 1990. "As a whole, it gives them the opportunity to interact with seniors of other towns in friendly competition," said Senior Citizen Coordinator for Sparta Township Sue Clark about the Olympics. "It is also a wonderful opportunity for seniors to show the world that they can still do it." Similar to the real Olympics, participants trained ahead of time for the big day. Throughout the month of May, 24 Sparta seniors, along with seven alternates prepared for the tournament by holding practice sessions. In addition to creating team camaraderie, the preparation also gives their bodies a chance to get ready for the physical activity the games' demand. Since Clark took over the team 11 years ago, Sparta has taken the first place prize five times, and has tied for first once. "As far as our seniors go, they take tremendous pride in representing Sparta Township in athletic competition," said Clark. "People tend to think that when you get old you can't do stuff, but that is obviously not the case here." At the June 15 Sparta Council meeting, the seniors' victory was acknowledged when the council presented the Olympic team with a certificate of achievement to honor its "exemplary performance and achievement." All participants are 60 years of age or older, and many that compete are in their 80s. Every year, the event switches locations between the six total towns that compete. One woman playing for the West Milford team is 95 years old.