By Chris Chaney
Everybody needs a goal in life.
That’s what Larry West of Moscow believes. The 80-year old athlete is doing his best to become “the best looking corpse in the cemetery.” Training, walking and competing have become part of life for West in his retirement, so much so that he plays softball weekly, walks daily and last month, competed in the Southwest Ohio Senior Olympics at La Salle High School, coming home with four medals.
“I retired when I was 61 years old in 1995 and right then, I started training for old age, really,” West said. “I played ball earlier (in life) and played basketball in high school. In my 30s, I took karate. I just want to stay in shape and I like to compete”
The Senior Games, put on by the Cincinnati Recreation Commission each summer, offer competitions in golf, swimming, tennis and track and field, among others, and is open to athletes ages 50 and older.
West prefers to do his competing on the diamond and in the weight room, primarily lifting weights and bench pressing.
“I don’t exercise, I train,” West explained. “Playing softball right now, I don’t want to overdo it, so I bench three sets of four at 150 pounds. When softball gets over, I’ll work to get back up to 180.”
It turned out to be a member of West’s softball team who introduced him to the Southwest Games. After calling the CRC to inquire about the events he could participate in, West found that his weight-lifting prowess wouldn’t be specifically tested in competition, so he opted for field events that would benefit from his training. He entered the shot put, discus, softball throw and javelin.
“I trained in the shot put and discus with the kids at New Richmond High School to get my technique down,” West explained.
When the Senior Olympics rolled around, West was ready to go, but he got a surprise when he go to La Salle the morning of his events.
“The Senior Olympics is something else,” West said. “When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a guy from Indiana, a guy from Canton, Ohio and another from West Virginia. I was competing with guys from all over.”
When the day of competition was finished, West was the proud new owner of a gold medal for the javelin, a silver medal earned in the softball throw and a pair of bronze medals for his efforts in the shot put and discus.
The way the medals are handed out is by threshold. For each event, age and distance are taken into account and the medals are given accordingly depending on how far, in West’s case, he threw each object.
After adding four more medals to his growing collection, West documented his accomplishments along with all other aspects of his training regimen.
“I document everything,” he said. “I average 507 miles a year walking, so I’ve walked 9,500 miles (in retirement). I’ve played in over 650 softball games and I still play in a 75-and-older league and I’m in the gym working out constantly.”
On pace to complete his 507 miles in 2014 and still playing a solid first and third base for his softball team, West says he’s not sure when he will compete for hardware next, but his goals remain the same: “I just try to stay fit.”
That’s the only way to become the best looking corpse in the cemetery.