Tucumcari senior Olympians prepare for summer games

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

Medal hopefuls from Tucumcari are preparing for the New Mexico Senior Olympic Summer Games at Las Cruces.

“Currently, there are nine athletes registered to compete in the summer games and we are trying to raise the funds for one more,” said Suzann Martin, director Quay County senior programs.

The athletes competing on May 27-31 are Mele Armijo, Celso Blea, Erlinda Blea, U.V. Henson, Mary Lou Henson, George Martinez, Gilbert Romero, Mary Rivera and Pete Valverde.

Another hopeful, Ida Kent, needs $400, to cover registration, meals and board, so she can compete, Martin said.

Last year, 12 senior Olympians brought 38 medals and ribbons back to Quay County, including 12 gold medals.

“These senior athletes are ready to compete and bring home more medals,” Martin said.

While the goal of the games is to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for seniors, they enjoy the spirit of competition and getting together with fellow athletes from across the state, said several athletes.

“There is a thrill that comes from competition,” said U.V. Henson, who competes in eight events. “I am looking forward to getting out there and competing.”

Henson said this is his third year to compete in the summer games. And this year he will share that experience with his wife, Mary Lou Henson.

Mary Lou Henson said she has been to the summer games with her husband as a guest but decided this year to compete in table tennis and the softball throw.

U.V. Henson, along with Armijo, Celso Blea and Rivera, will also compete at the National Senior Olympics in California.

Henson qualified at last year’s summer games in the long jump. Armijo and Blea will compete in doubles shuffleboard and Mary Rivera will compete in tennis.