Senior Olympics set for Memorial Day Weekend

Steve Domahidy chucks the javelin during the 2009 St. Louis Senior Olympics. The annual games take place over Memorial Day Weekend.


It’s a typical story. Like most folks, Senior Olympian Irwin “Toddy” Goldman found that as he’s gotten older, he’s needed to compete in fewer events.

“I’ve cut them down considerably because I’m getting up in years,” said the Creve Coeur resident who is marking his 30th year in the games. Today, he only competes in shuffleboard and the basketball free throw.


And the homerun derby, of course. And the soccer kick.

Oh, and four other events.

“When I’m resting, I do the washer toss,” he laughs.

Slowing down doesn’t come easy to Senior Olympians and it will be another year of rivalry and fun when the 31st annual edition of the games get underway later this month. The competition, which will feature 85 events in 34 different categories from plug casting to cycling to volleyball, are set to get underway May 27 and run through the end of the month. Events, open to those age 50 and up, are scheduled for 14 different venues across the area. Thursday is the last chance for entrants to register. Last year’s games featured more than 1,400 competitors.

This year’s event will also honor Jerry Ehrlich with the Walter “Doc” Eberhardt Award for his volunteer work.

Nancy Weigley said the games are the highlight of the season for some participants.

“I ran into one of our athletes Sunday while I was working out at the J and he said this is something he looks forward to all year long and he schedules everything around this weekend,” said Weigley, a former director of the Senior Olympics who is in her second year as the event’s chair. “When you hear something like that where someone truly puts their heart and soul into these games and it gives them a reason to get up and compete, you just have to believe that it is making them a healthier person.”

It’s also a great opportunity to make memories. A particular recollection from several years ago comes to mind for Weigley. An athlete with Alzheimer’s Disease came out to compete as her husband watched in the crowd. Then a storm broke.

“It was raining and he came out from the stands with his umbrella and walked her around the track for her event,” she said. “There was not a dry eye in the house. It was the sweetest thing on Earth.”

Weigley has been involved with the games in various capacities for nearly a quarter century but that might make her a relative newcomer compared to some.

“Let me put it this way,” said Irv Siegel. “As long as I still can, I might just as well.”

The 83-year-old Creve Coeur resident has been in the games nearly since the beginning. Siegel, who will compete in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter runs, said he starts training for the games in January.

“It’s the competition,” he said. “You’ve really got something to shoot for. It’s just amazing what you can do with your body.”

Siegel won’t be spending all his time running. He’ll also compete in the softball throw for accuracy and distance, the standing jump, and the running long jump. The octogenarian will even take part in the art competition.

Yet it’s more than the rivalry and exertion that makes the Senior Olympics what they are. The people are what it’s really about. Siegel said he looks forward to renewing old friendships.

“They are all such nice guys,” he said. “I’ve never run across anyone at the track that wasn’t great. There’s no hostility, arrogance or anything like that.”

Weigley agrees, noting that, as with many athletes, the games “got into her blood.”

“I think the best part of Senior Olympics is the treasured friends people make during their time there,” she said. “From both a physical and a social standpoint it just can’t be beat.”

Still, some love the intensity, too. Goldman, who is also one of the hundreds of volunteers helping out with the logistics of the games, said he loves the friendships and the camaraderie, but he also looks forward to the shuffleboard event, where he has scored a gold or silver eight years running.

“I don’t want to break my streak,” said the 86-year-old. “I like the direct competition, one-on-one. They’ve got some good shuffleboard players.”

Weigley said a lot of the competitors are in good physical form. She recalled watching one senior athlete doing laps in the pool.

“My son, who was a competitive swimmer, said his times were comparable to the Missouri state high school championship times,” she said. “That’s how good of a swimmer he still is at age 50, so it runs the gamut from people who are just getting out there to move around to people who are really serious athletes in their sport.”

Siegel said it’s a great way to stay active and challenge oneself. He can even see the contrast when he boards an activity bus for seniors.

“The crowd is slower, not as brisk,” he said. “But you get on a bus with a lot of Senior Olympics folks and there’s a little more spice. You can tell the difference.”

For more information about the 31st Annual St. Louis Senior Olympics, visit or contact event manager Martha Borges at 314-442-3217 or email to [email protected]