Gladwin resident, Jackie Gilliam recently competed in the National Senior Games in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The National Senior Games are for athletes age 50 and over. Jackie competed in the 65-69 age group. The process begins with the state level games. Performance at the state games determines if you qualify for the national games.
Jackie qualified for the national games in eight track and field events last August at the Michigan Senior Olympics games in Auburn Hills. She qualified for the National meet in the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m track events. She also qualified in the javelin and the high jump field events.
Jackie and her husband and coach, Kernie, decided her best events at nationals would be the 400m, 800m, 1500m and the high jump. They were hoping for top 10 finishes in those events.
However, as winter continued to hang on and training got a bit spotty in the last couple of weeks leading up to the national games, they were hoping for top 20 finishes. After lowering their goal, Jackie and Kernie were pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Jackie finished in the top ten in all four events. She set personal best times in her three running events. She finished ninth in the high jump, with a jump of 3’ 1.25” and sixth in the 400m, running a time of 1:40.76. She finished seventh in the 800m event, running a time of 4:01.87. She finished tenth in the 1500m, with a time of 8:37.31. She took home two ribbons, a bunch of great memories and lots of experience.
Participants need a top eight finish to be at the podium and receive a ribbon and a top three finish to be on the podium and receive a medal. Jackie said, “The National Games were an exciting experience. To be there running with the best of the best was amazing! I’m grateful for the chance to compete and hope one day to be on that podium. I’m thrilled to be in the top eight in two events and I will always treasure those hard won ribbons!”
Next up, Jackie will continue her training for the Michigan Senior Olympics, being held in Auburn Hills this August. Those games are the qualifying games for August 2023 National Games in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Jackie hopes to qualify for the national games again.
“It’s fun to keep moving and compete, I’m just a wee bit competitive,” Jackie said with a smile. She is very thankful for the support of her family and friends. “It means so much to have such a great support group!”
If you would like any information on the Senior Olympics, check out Michigan Senior Olympics in your Google search. They offer competition in all kinds of sports from archery to bowling, swimming to pickle ball and even dancing. So, if you’re interested in a little friendly competition and you are over 50 years of age, check it out! You can also chat with Kernie or Jackie for more information on the games.