Fitness, Competition, Recreation All Part of Midwest Senior Games

Article excerpt

Byline: Carmen Greco Jr. Daily Herald Staff Writer

Al Rifkind of Wheaton just came off a grueling round of table tennis.

Pingpong - grueling?

The way the 74-year-old Rifkind plies the table, grueling is as accurate a word as any.

He darts from side to side, attacking the ball, sending it whizzing over the net to his opponent.

"He used to be one of the best around," said Bob Matone, who admired Rifkind as he played at the West Chicago Park District's recreation building Wednesday.

Rifkind was competing in the table tennis singles tournament during this year's Midwest Senior Games, which extend until Saturday. More than 600 senior athletes are competing in a range of sports, including track and field, swimming, biking, tennis and volleyball.

Rifkind, a retired jeweler, comes to this year's games with a degenerative eye disease that gradually is wearing away at his eyesight.

That may have affected the quality of his play, but it hasn't slowed him down. He's quick to rattle off future tournaments he's signed up for.

"Without the exercise, I'd be in trouble," said Rifkind, who works out for more than an hour a day to keep in shape.

Rifkind symbolizes the increasing emphasis seniors are putting on physical fitness. And the Midwest Senior Games in West Chicago is a great stage to view that trend.

But sports, exercise and physical fitness aren't the only activities seniors are flocking to in droves.

Marget Hamilton, director of the Older Adult Institute at the College of DuPage, said interest in adult education has exploded College of DuPage, said interest in adult education has exploded among seniors.

"It just grows and grows," Hamilton said of course offerings for seniors at the college, which are held at the Glen Ellyn campus and 34 off-campus sites. …