Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Botching Up for Bocce Novice in Golden Effort

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Botching Up for Bocce Novice in Golden Effort

Article excerpt

It had come down to this Sunday: two 76-year-olds head to head in a bocce nail-biter.

On her final roll, the closest Dot Nortman of Kirkwood could cajole her white ball was to 3 feet or so away from the small, yellow target ball. And Mary Ruppert, of St. Louis, still had her rolls to take. The score stood at Nortman 11, Ruppert 10.

Two lobs later, Ruppert had rolled her brown balls just enough closer to the target ball to outpoint Nortman 12-11 and win the gold. Nortman got the silver.

Ruppert warmly hugged Nortman, smiled broadly and then raised her arms into the air twice as she walked off the court.

"Whoa, this is the first time I've played," Ruppert said. "That was close."

After slipping the gold-medal ribbon over her head, she added, "I feel wonderful."

As much as anything, that's what the 15th St. Louis Senior Olympics is about: Feeling good.

A record field of 1,631 competitors will run, throw, swing, putt, swim, kick and jump their way to medals in 60 events over the next three days. The competition kicked off Sunday at the Jewish Community Centers Association.

But the Senior Olympics is not about winning or losing, Barbara Bindler, chairwoman of the Senior Olympics steering committee, told the audience at the opening ceremonies on Sunday.

Each athlete is a winner, whether they medal or not, by virtue of their participation, Bindler said.

That's what the founders of the event had in mind many years ago, said Joy Dunkelman, one of those founders. The first St. Louis Senior Olympics attracted a field of 400 in 1980.

"I thought that the image of people growing older was one of them being sick and infirm," Dunkelman said. That image of aging has changed, she said, because of a growing appreciation for the wellness of people over age 55. The Senior Olympics has grown right along with it, Dunkelman said.

Things went off smoothly on a sunny Sunday. A parade streamed past. Pronouncements were read. Plaques were presented.

Evelyn Myers, co-chairperson of the Senior Olympics for its first couple of years, received the Walter "Doc" Eberhardt Memorial Award. The honor is given to the participant or volunteer who best exudes Eberhardt's commitment to the competition. …

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