Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Centenarian seeks more medals

SHERWOOD PARK, Alta.—Florence Storch is a little old lady with a really big stick.
The 101-year-old from Hanna, Alta. has been competing for about a decade in javelin at both the seniors’ provincial and national levels.

And on Thursday, she’ll be doing it again—tossing the long spear in the over-85 category at the Canada 55-Plus Games in Strathcona County east of Edmonton.
Event organizers say Storch will be the oldest athlete at the Games, a title she’s held for the last few instalments.
But Storch says it’s no big deal.
“I don’t like a fuss,” said the feisty centenarian.
She noted she’s healthy and fit, although not as athletic as she used to be.
She jokes about looking more like she’s 110.
When she started the sport in her 90s, Storch said she was able to get a running start on throwing the javelin.
But now she’s not so steady on her feet and stands in the same spot.
“In my right hand, I have the javelin,” she noted. “My left hand—the walker’s right there, so if I need it, I grab it.
“It’s safer.”
Her eyesight is not so good these days, either, she admitted.
And the javelin keeps gaining size on her. She used to stand about five feet tall, but has shrunk a bit over the last few years.
The women’s javelin measures slightly longer than two metres (seven feet).
Still, Storch wants to keep competing.
She said her husband, who died 15 years ago, would have told her: “If you want to do it, go ahead and do it.”
Storch grew up on a farm and worked as a teacher in a rural schoolhouse, where she often played sports with her students.
She “accidentally got into this javelin thing” while helping organize the seniors’ games when the event was in her home town.
She noticed no one had signed up for javelin so she wrote her name down.
She did poorly that first year but was determined to keep trying.
“I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to train,” she recalled.
Storch sought out the athletic coach at the local high school and he agreed to help her so she could compete again the following year.
After a couple of years, she actually got quite good—and started winning medals.
One of her gold medals hangs in a frame on the wall of her room at the Hanna Seniors Lodge.
Her 70-year-old son, Ed, also has competed in several seniors’ games in the sprint event and calls his mother a “hard act to follow.”
Although she hasn’t been injured while throwing the javelin, he worries about her.
“She could easily break a bone or so many things could go wrong,” he said.
“But she wants to go.”
And saying “no” to your mother is never easy, he added.
He plans to be on the field cheering her on, along with some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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