There’s no stopping Millie Grover.
With ease, she weaves her feet in and out of a course dotted with colorful traffic cones, moves through 10 wall push-ups like a weightlifter and nimbly climbs over a series of raised platforms. Grover’s athleticism shines as bright as her million-dollar smile. At 82, this Southern California native, whose children live in Los Altos, is more active than some people a quarter of her age.
“If you stop moving, you lose it,” said Grover of her active lifestyle, which includes skiing and strength training.
Disproving the notion that aging results in lost mobility, approximately 90 residents of The Forum at Rancho San Antonio participated in the Olympics-style “Age of Champions” May 3. During a day of sports games organized by a committee of residents, facility staff and volunteers, athletes crisscrossed the campus adjacent to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve to test their strength and sportsmanship. From fast-paced water sports and a relay to lower-key activities like shuffleboard and bocce ball, the events suited participants of all ages, abilities and interests.
Searching for more than the finish line
A vehicle sporting a large American flag blared patriotic music as two dozen Forum residents powered their way through a multielement par course at the start of “Age of Champions.”
All of the competitors exhibited athleticism and enthusiasm, including 94-year-old retired Adm. Pat Clancy, who wielded the bocce ball with grace and style, rolling it skillfully down the green before a hushed gaggle of spectators.
Dan Magay was among the competitors at the “Age of Champions.” Magay is already the proud recipient of a gold medal – he won the gold as a member of the Hungarian National Olympic Saber Team at the XVI Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956.
Magay’s game-day posture was infectious – he raced through the par course, relay and pingpong events with unbridled joy. He didn’t seem to be aiming for another medal as much as living in the moment and savoring the community around him.
For many participants, the “Age of Champions” is about more than the triumph of strength over age.
“It’s about participating and getting to know other people,” said Lois Adams, a Forum resident who helped organize the event. “There is something here for everyone to participate in. … The socialization of people is good.”
Forum residents emerged from their homes to support the athletes, setting up lawn chairs along the relay route and the perimeter of other events. Fans showered competitors with applause, thumbs-up and shouts of encouragement as they completed their events.
Being present and healthy trumped being first, fastest or farthest.
Bringing the games home
Inspired by a film about a similar event produced by the International Council on Active Aging, members of The Forum staff introduced the “Age of Champions” to the local senior-living community last year. Although the inaugural event was small in scale, it piqued the interest of residents, who carried the games forward this year.
“With a community this size, you never know who’s going to make it one day to the next,” Adams said. “But it’s working well. We’re very happy with the whole thing.”
Longtime Bay Area residents Les and Kay Magoon moved to The Forum two years ago. They eagerly participated in this year’s “Age of Champions.”
The Magoons lead a healthy lifestyle, so they said they didn’t prepare much for their matchup on the bocce ball court.
While active living is part of the everyday lifestyle at The Forum, Kay said the event motivated many residents to sharpen their skills even further.
“I think the people who are participating in this have trained hard and practiced,” she said. “People don’t take it lightly.”
What surprises her most on a daily basis, Kay said, is the endurance and push of Forum residents. One couple particularly impresses her by swimming lap after lap in the pool every day.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover necessarily,” she said.
2nd Annual Age of Champions takes over The Forum - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier