3,000 seniors set to compete in 'Olympics'

Saturday, February 19th 2005, 10:49 am
By: News On 6

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ Roughly 3,000 seniors are expected to compete in a variety of sports ranging from tennis to softball to tai chi in this year's Arizona Senior Olympics.

The events started Saturday and last through March 6 at venues across Maricopa County. Some athletes are using it to prepare for the national senior games in Pittsburgh in June, organizers said.

Dominick Aiello, a 70-year-old who lost a leg to cancer when he was 9, plans to swim in the state competition and uses exercise to stay healthy.

``I like living, so I don't want to deteriorate my body,'' Aiello said, ``and I would love to live to be 112. If you want to be happy in life, then you have to stay as healthy as possible.''

A healthy diet, cardiovascular exercise and resistance training have given him good health, he said.

``I dont remember the last time I took a pill,'' Aiello said, ``and I dont plan on taking one either.''

The Arizona games include tennis, softball, tai chi and some more exotic sports like pickleball, a cross between tennis and badminton.

Tybie Sommer, 80, is defending her table tennis championship. The two-time world title winner says she sometimes thinks of giving up because of her diabetes and slightly enlarged heart.

``But then you go out and see all these people with oxygen tanks and disabilities and it's really inspiring,'' the Scottsdale woman said.

The event is open to athletes who are at least 50 years old.