Four Local Veterans Participate in the 26th Annual Golden Age Games

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Events at the Games are open to all military Veterans, age 55 or older, who are currently receiving health care at any VA facility. Hosted by the St. Louis VA Medical Center, the competition features sports such as swimming, cycling, golf, track and field, bowling, table tennis, and others, totaling 14 competitive events in the only national multi-sport and recreational seniors’ competition program. Designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, the National Veterans Golden Age Games represents one of the most progressive and adaptive rehabilitation senior sports programs worldwide and serves as a showcase for the rehabilitation value that wellness and fitness provide in the lives of older Americans.

Grant Edwards, 60, is competing with more than 900 Veterans from around the nation in the 26th Annual Veterans Golden Age Games in St. Louis, Mo., from May 30 to June 5.

“They’ve trained hard. They hope to bring home medals,” said Sharon Taylor-Johnson, a kinesiologist at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center, who coached them.

This week four local Veterans—Earl Matthews, 68, Grant Edwards, 60, James Jones, 67, and Herbert Robinson, 56 —will compete with more than 900 Veterans from around the nation in the 26th Annual Veterans Golden Age Games in St. Louis, Mo., from May 30 to June 5.

Events at the Games are open to all military Veterans, age 55 or older, who are currently receiving health care at any VA facility. Hosted by the St. Louis VA Medical Center, the competition features sports such as swimming, cycling, golf, track and field, bowling, table tennis, and others, totaling 14 competitive events in the only national multi-sport and recreational seniors’ competition program. Designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, the National Veterans Golden Age Games represents one of the most progressive and adaptive rehabilitation senior sports programs worldwide and serves as a showcase for the rehabilitation value that wellness and fitness provide in the lives of older Americans.

During the Games, all age classifications will be determined by the athlete's age as of May 31, 2012. There are seven age classifications: 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, and 85 and older. Athletes will compete by gender in the following events: cycling, bowling, horseshoes, shot put, discus, javelin and swimming. Visually impaired athletes will have a separate division in the following events: bowling, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and golf.

Of the four Maryland Veterans participating in this year’s games, Edwards, a stroke survivor, and Jones, both Baltimore City residents, competed last year, part of the contingent bringing home a total of nine medals. This year, Jones will compete in shot put, discus, and javelin throw, and Edwards, in shuffleboard, air rifle, pool and bowling. Newcomers are Matthews, a Baltimore County resident, and Robinson, of Perryville, Md. Matthews, a double amputee, will compete in air rifle, pool, shuffle board and bowling, while Robinson, in pool, bowling, table tennis, and air rifle.

“They’ve trained hard. They hope to bring home medals in honor of a Veteran who competed last year and who expected to compete this year, but who passed away about a month or so ago,” said Sharon Taylor-Johnson, a kinesiologist at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center coaching them for the Games.

Sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Help Hospitalized Veterans and Veterans Canteen Service, the National Veterans Golden Age Games serves as a qualifying event for competition in the National Senior Games in a number of competitive events.

For more information about the National Veterans Golden Age Games and other VA national rehabilitation programs, visit http://www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov.

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Rosalia Scalia
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