Two people from Sanibel emerged as prominent champions among the more than 500 athletes competing in the Florida Senior Games State Championships held in Polk County last week.
Sponsored by the Florida Sports Foundation of Tallahassee and Polk County's Tourism & Sports Marketing Burea, the event allows competitors (age 50 and older) to test their prowess in everything from badminton, basketball and bowling to softball, shuffleboard, swimming - and much more.
Bob Buntrock, known locally as the organizer of Sanibel's 8-Ball Pool League as well as his work with Pfeifer Realty Group, won both a gold medal and silver medal during the billiards category of competition.
Power lifter Dale Reiss earned three Gold Medals in the weightlifting category of the Florida Senior Games Championships
(Photo by Bill Schiller)
The gold came during 8-Ball Doubles play; the silver medal came in 9-Ball play. He was in the running during head-to-head 8-Ball, but finished in fourth place. For anyone that may question the ability of seniors to maintain the steady slight-of-hand and eagle-eye-aim demanded in billiards, it is fitting to note that Buntrock competed in the 80-84 age bracket. Stick that in the corner pocket.
Dale Reiss of Sanibel may appear diminutive, but she is an undisputed power lifter after earning three gold medals in the dead lift, bench press, and combined weightlifting categories.
She dead-lifted 200 pounds and bench pressed 100 pounds for a combined score of 300. Surprisingly, she expresses some disappointment, saying that after 6 weeks of training, she had hoped to better her totals from former years of competition (where she has earned six previous medals). She says a shoulder injury impacted her ability to do better. She credits her trainer Lorry Curry with helping her prepare, but scoffs at the suggestion of her athleticism. "I thought it would be a fun thing to do... and I thought about what I could compete in." As her trainer suggested weight lifting, Reiss says, "You work with what you have."
She now has nine gold medals in total, but to the suggestion that she shares certain acclaim similarly enjoyed by Olympians like Mark Phelps, Reiss says, "His medals are more special."
But that isn't to suggest she doesn't take special delight in participating in the competition. Both she and Buntrock wonder why more people don't get involved in the games. They say the events are fun and come with an opportunity to make new friends.
For more information on Florida's Annual Senior Games competition, phone 1-866-354-2637 or visit the website at www.flasports.com.