Clemmons, Mercer, Parker, Wheeler win gold at NC Senior Games

By Kevin Spradlin

Pete Wheeler envisions adding a women’s softball team and cycling to next year’s Senior Games of Richmond County. For the winter months, however, eight Richmond County seniors can rest on their laurels of winning gold, silver or bronze medals in the North Carolina Senior Games that wrapped up this weekend in Raleigh.

NC_senior_gamesRockingham’s Patricia Clemmons won gold medals in the women’s 55 to 59 age division, placing first in running long jump with a leap of 11 feet, one-half inch, and the standing long jump (6-6.25). Clemmons also won silver in the softball throw (97-3) and basketball shooting.

Terry Mercer, of Hamlet, placed first in in the women’s 60 to 64 age group in archery with a score of 373 points. Zina Park, of Rockingham, earned gold in women’s 55 to 59 shot put (28-10) and placed fourth in the discus throw (49-9.25).

Hamlet resident Pete Wheeler won a gold medal in the women’s 65 to 69 age division in archery with 465 points.

Winners qualify for the national senior games in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.,┬áin July 2015. Wheeler said she, along with Clemmons, Malloy and Parker plan to go. Wheeler said she participated in the 2014┬ánational competition and “it was amazing.”

“The amount of seniors,” Wheelers said in awe. “They were up to 100 years old, swimming and running.”

Four others also earned top-three finishes. Michael Deese, of Rockingham, teamed with Boykin “Gene” Stewart, of Rockingham, in the men’s 60 to 64 doubles. Stewart also finished second on the men’s 60 to 64 singles tennis.

Representing Ellerbe was Ida Mae Malloy, who took home silver in shot put (22-6) in the women’s 65 to 69 division and earned a third-place finish in the discus throw (47-2.75).

In the 60 to 64 group, Lee Freeman, of Ellerbe, took third in basketball shooting.

Wheeler works through the Hamlet Senior Center to coordinate the Senior Games of Richmond County each spring.

“We’d like to get a softball team going, but we don’t have it yet,” Wheeler said. “You have to be 50 (years old) to play.”

Local events are staged at a variety of venues, including Hamlet Memorial Park, Browder Park, FirstHealth swimming pool and Richmond Senior High School.

Wheeler said North Carolina has one of the largest senior contingency in the country to participate in the state games.

“I think it’s because we’re year-round here,” she said. “We do have a really active senior games group. I’ll have to say we’re actually small compared to a lot of ’em, but everybody knows everybody because we’re a small county.”

While many enter for the social camaraderie, they are also competitive, Wheeler said.

“These people become really good friends over the years,” she said. “They all want to help each other, but they love to win.”

For more information on the Senior Games of Richmond County, contact Wheeler at 910-582-7985. In Spring 2014, Wheeler said 162 athletes completed more than 900 events.

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