Jerry Olguin seems to defy the laws of aging. At 72 years of age, Olguin is in great physical condition and proved it by qualifying for next year’s National Senior Olympic Games in 10 events.
By placing in the top three in all 10 events he entered at the state Senior Olympic Games in Las Cruces earlier this month, a feat unmatched by any other senior athlete in the state, he qualified for the National Senior Olympic Games in Orlando, Fla., next year.
Actually, Olguin didn’t finish lower than second in any event, and he brought home three gold medals.
“I think the reason I do as well as I do is because I’m an underdog,” Olguin said. “I know that some of the guys out there are better than me, and that gives me heart. I don’t like to lose.”
Olguin didn’t lose in the standing broad jump and the long jump, winning gold in both events. He also took first place in the 400-meter dash.
In all, Olguin competed in all six running events, finishing second to Bill Quinn of Los Alamos in four of the six.
“He had beaten me in all of the other events, and I had to beat him in one,” said Olguin, who beat Quinn to win the 400. “I just took off fast and hoped that I wouldn’t run out of gas.”
On top of his track and field conquests, Olguin’s basketball team also finished second at the Games.
Olguin, who does all of his running training on the ditch banks of Valencia County, said he is proud of the opportunity to represent New Mexico and Valencia County at a national level.
“This is such an honor to be representing Valencia County,” Olguin said. “There are athletes at the national meet not only from the US but also from other countries. I’m just very happy that I get to compete alongside them.”
This isn’t Olguin’s first trip to the national meet; the last time he went, he finished 18th out of a field of 100 in the 5K run.
“A lot of those athletes are former Olympians and professional athletes,” Olguin said. “It’s a great feeling to finish so high in a field like that.”
Olguin will begin his training in earnest for the national games about six months before the meet, so as not to wear himself out.
“Being a person who’s not young, I can’t start training too early, or I’ll get burned out,” he said. “I’ll start getting more and more pains.”