By Lillian Bowe
Roberto Ortega, 75, knows the importance of staying active and having a lot of fun, so participating in the New Mexico Senior Olympics this year was an easy decision.
“I want to stay active and it keeps me moving,” Ortega said.
Ortega said the Olympics are more than a competition between seniors ages 50 and up. It is about having fun and meeting people from around the state.
“Every year they have a huge banquet with a great band and we all have a great time,” Ortega said.
Ortega and five others from the Los Abuelitos Senior Center will be going to Roswell on Tuesday to compete in the New Mexico Senior Olympics.
Linda Uttaro, site coordinator, will be going with the group to Roswell. Uttaro said Los Abuelitos has been participating in the Olympics for more than 20 years.
“Its an opportunity to meet new people. There are seniors from all over the state that come. There is even a talent show and everyone is really good,” Uttaro said.
Mary Madrial, 63, said she enjoys the Olympics because it is a chance to travel as the event moves to different parts of the state every two years.
“The first year I did it, it was in Las Cruces. It is fun to go to different places and get away for awhile,” Madrial said.
Madrial said she is competing in Frisbee accuracy and soccer kick. The six people participating had to qualify for their events at the local level which was hosted in Clovis.
Jose Rodriguez, 70, is going to the Olympics for the first time and is excited about attending.
“I joined because it is a good way to keep the motor running and keeping me in good shape,” Rodriguez said.
Uttaro said the games are also inspirational to everyone who attends.
“This one year in one of the walking events, there was this mother-daughter team. One was around 70 and the other was 90 and they were amazing. The mother had no problem with the event at all,” Uttaro said.
The New Mexico Senior Olympics has over 107 events in 28 different sports including basketball, pool and track and field.