World’s oldest Olympic gold medalist shares his secrets to longevity at Encore! event

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Allart Lightenberg, above, from left, joins Olympian Alex Tarics, Roy Lave and Dave Smith at the Encore! event.

The Los Altos Rotary Club’s Partners for Elder Generations Committee hosted the “Encore! Investigate Your Passion and Get Involved” program for adults over 50 at the Los Altos Youth Center March 23.

The event featured speaker Alex Tarics, the world’s oldest living Olympic gold medalist, who will turn 100 in September.

Tarics’ appearance opened to the strains of the Hungarian National Anthem.

“As an Encore event, we have a living example of what people should do as they get older,” said Dave Smith, Partners for Elder Generations chairman. “Alex Tarics participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a member of the Hungarian water polo team and is physically active and wishes to go to the 2016 Olympics.”

Smith described Tarics, who now lives in Belvedere, as the “perfect example of taking advantage of life and doing something for his community or nation.”

After his Olympics glory, Tarics earned a doctorate in engineering and built a successful engineering business.

“Whatever I accomplished, I did as part of a team, but once I retired at 78, I decided I had to do things alone,” he said.

During his remarks, the former Olympian described conditions in Hungary before and after the games.

“I moved from Hungary when I couldn’t vote anymore because of politics, and became a citizen here in 1953,” he said.

Encore! attendees asked Tarics questions, mostly concerning his diet and other secrets to his long, active life.

“I think genes have a lot to do with aging, but I never put anything in my body that didn’t belong there,” Tarics said. “If you want something, work for it – and learn to accept failures.”

Tarics proved that his sense of humor is still intact.

“Yes, I smoked, but I never inhaled,” he said.

His recipe for longevity?

“I drink a lot of milk and enjoy buttermilk, Bulgarian buttermilk,” he said. “I swim a lot and I walk a lot where I don’t need my cane, and my wife prepares good meals for me. The inside of me is still 23 years old.”

The annual Encore! event is designed to encourage participants to explore new possibilities for life enrichment, meet and talk with representatives from nonprofit organizations who need volunteers and consult with others on how to start a new career.

“Staying involved gives people a sense of meaning and vitality,” said Rae Holt, executive director of The Terraces at Los Altos. “Volunteering is a way to stay engaged and contribute to the community, and this is a wonderful place to start looking for a beginning.”

The Encore! event offered exposure to career and volunteer options for older residents, particularly those retired from their day jobs who are looking for something productive to do.

The event featured more than 25 nonprofit exhibits, lunch and a panel discussion on encore career opportunities.

Encore! and Partners for Elder Generations are offered through the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

For more information, visit

Clyde Noel/ Special to the Town Crier

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