The weeklong Olympics-style competition will take place at rec centers across Brooklyn and Staten Island from May 6 to 10. Participation is free.
Seniors will compete in a variety of sports, including track-and-field, swimming, bowling, pickleball, ping pong and shuffleboard.
Last Thursday, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver joined dozens of seniors in a track-and-field clinic inside the McCarren Park Play Center in Greenpoint. They practiced running and exercise drills, and received tips on stretching and warming up.
The clinics run until the end of April.
“We just want to make sure that we help our seniors connect, get healthy and have some fun,” he said.
The Senior Games also get competitive. The commissioner mentioned that one participant, 67-year-old Leroy Cummins of East Flatbush, does well every year and that people “have an eye on him.”
Silver, who completed the New York City Marathon for the first time last year, said he may take on Cummins in the 800-meter race.
“People really get into it,” Silver said. “You’d be surprised.”
Cummins said he began running in high school, and hasn’t stopped for 52 years. Diabetes also runs in his family, so staying active it helps keep his sugar level down.
“Not only the health aspect, but you kind of push yourself and it keeps you motivated,” he said. “It keeps your mind fresh and it makes you strong.”
The Senior Games typically open with a torch relay run through Brooklyn. Cummins participates in that task as well.
As for Silver’s track-and-field challenge, the East Flatbush resident said he enjoys the competition.
“He told me I’m going to see his name on the back of his uniform,” Cummins said. “He might see my name, because hopefully I’ll be in front of him.”
For Fort Hamilton resident Maureen Maloney Kadri, who participated in last week’s clinic, the Senior Games are not about competition. Rather, it’s about staying healthy and fit and making new friends.
On Valentine’s Day this year, Kadri said she went to the recreation center in Brownsville and played pickleball with seniors there. They also tap-danced and sang together.
“For me, it’s all about growing old gracefully,” she said. “I don’t want to fall and not be able to get up.
“I’m competitive, but I don’t have to win,” Kadri added. “There’s a difference.”
The clinic was originally supposed to be held at the renovated McCarren Park track, but the snow forced the clinic indoors.
The park, which had just undergone a $4 million restoration project, features a new synthetic turf, track, adult fitness equipment, bleachers and more.
Silver added that the project was completed months ahead of schedule.
“Already it’s being used,” he said. “McCarren is now becoming this athletic hub. It’s one of the great parks in Brooklyn.”