It’s about to be a busy five days for Mary Kelly.
The 78-year old senior athlete will be competing on the biggest stage in senior athletics this week, as she will be participating in the National Senior Games Association 3-on-3 basketball competition June 18-21.
The Senior Games is the largest senior sporting event in the United States and are held every two years. The Nationals will be held in Albuquerque, NM, at the University of New Mexico.
“It’s wonderful,” said Kelly on competing at nationals. “Everybody is there to win one medal. When you’ve got more than 10,000 athletes, it’s very hard. You really have to play good.”
More than 13,000 athletes ages 50 and older will compete in 20 competitions.
The national stage is nothing new to Kelly, who has won eight medals at the national level in her 17-year Senior Games career. Five of her eight are from basketball: three golds and two silvers.
Preparation for the national and state games requires staying active and practicing multiple days per week.
“I do some form of exercise every day,” said Kelly. “I play basketball twice a week, I play tennis twice a week, and I try to throw one or two days. Staying really active and keeping the heart rate up, and dieting are important.”
After competing at nationals, Kelly will then fly back to Tennessee to compete in the Tennessee Senior Olympics state track and field competition June 22 at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin.
Kelly has excelled in the throwing events in track and field, winning several state championships in the discus throw and shot-put. Kelly set a new record in the age 70+ discus throw in 2011, becoming the first woman, age 70 or older, to ever throw the discus more than 60 feet.
That year she also broke the 70+ shot-put record, and subsequently broke her own 70+ shot-put record the following year.
Kelly, a Crossville resident, credits her community as a way to stay in shape as well. Kelly exercises in Fairfield Glade at the racquet center.
“We know a lot of athletes in the Glade,” added Kelly. “The nice thing about Fairfield Glade is there are a lot of people out there that want to do the things you want to do.”
Results of Kelly’s participation in both events will be available at the conclusion of the competitions.