Never Too Old to Toss a Javelin

At 95, Marnie Evans still feels she still has a lot of living to do. Next week, she's set to compete in the National Senior Games in Louisville, Ky. Evans will participate in three events: the discus, shot-put and javelin. She tells Debbie Elliott she's hoping for someone to go up against. There isn't too much competition in the 95- to 100- year-old bracket.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Next we turn to an Olympics of a different sort. The National Senior Games are underway in Louisville, Kentucky. The competitors, much like the Olympic torch, have a fire that doesn't seem to burn out. An estimated 12,000 athletes over the age of 50 are competing in track and field, swimming, bike racing and, yes, even shuffle board.

One of these athletes is 95-year-old Marnie Evans of Wilson, Louisiana. She's hoping to set new records in the 95 to 100-year-olds bracket in shot put, discus and javelin. Marnie Evans joins us from her home. Welcome to the program. You must be a pretty strong lady.

Ms. MARNIE EVANS (Participant, National Senior Games Association): Well, thank you. I'm glad to be a part of that. I've been doing a part of it ever since they started.

ELLIOTT: And when was that?

Ms. EVANS: In 1987.

ELLIOTT: How did you become interested in these events - the shot put, the javelin, the discus?

Ms. EVANS: Well, I was still in the track events, the running long jump and 100 to 200 and 400 dashes and I pulled some of my hamstrings. My legs just fade out on me, so I had to find something else to do. And in training my Lab retrievers, I have found that I could throw a good bit because I had to throw things out in the farm(ph) for them to bring in. So I said, well, maybe I'll try that.

ELLIOTT: Mrs. Evans, how did you go from, you know, tossing sticks to your Labrador retrievers to learning how to toss the javelin?

Ms. EVANS: Well, I have to throw things for the retriever to go and bring it back. And for a while, I did not do the javelin, I just did the shot put and discus because we had to take the javelin with us, and I didn't want to be bothered with that on my flight, so I didn't do it. And then my buddies locally(ph) said, oh, come on and do what you do - the only things, you can do that. I said, no, it's not the fact that I don't want to do it. It's the fact I don't want to - be bothered with that long thing on the way. But when the games decided to finish those so I did go for it.

ELLIOTT: How far can you throw the javelin today?

Ms. EVANS: Well, not too far. I can make 27 feet. I've been trying to go for 30 but I haven't made it.

ELLIOTT: What about the shot put?

Ms. EVANS: Shot put? I think my record was 17, and now I'm doing 12 and 13.

ELLIOTT: How many people do you think you'll be competing against?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. EVANS: Not very many. From 95 to 100, that's the bracket I'm in. I've been with two others in the 90 to 94 group but they are behind me a couple of years so I don't know of any competition, but I hope I have because it's no fun if you don't have competition.

ELLIOTT: What was it like growing up there in Louisiana as a little girl? Were you athletic then?

Ms. EVANS: Yes. I grew up with a bunch of boys so I did everything the boys were doing. I had to be pretty good or they wouldn't let me.

ELLIOTT: What kinds of things did you all do?

Ms. EVANS: Everything that country people do. We'd go swimming in the creek. We'd ride horses all day long. We would dive. When we got 12 years old, we started shooting and we'd play ball. We'd make our own balls out of a hickory nut or pecan or something so hard like that and wrap it with strings. I don't know what - I always grew up doing whatever the boys did. So I guess that's why I got athletic. I didn't like being inside and playing with dolls.

ELLIOTT: And still don't.

Ms. EVANS: No. I still do my hunting and fishing, almost all the same thing. If I have to do the same thing, I never quit doing it because I didn't have to, but you can't find anybody to play with. All my age is gone.

ELLIOTT: Well, we wish you all the luck at the senior games.

Ms. EVANS: Okay, it's been fun talking to you. Thank you. Bye-bye.

ELLIOTT: Marnie Evans will be competing next week in the National Senior Games, already underway in Louisville, Kentucky. She joined us from her home in Wilson, Louisiana.

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