Ed True, of O’Fallon, is a member of an elite group of athletes known as the Great Eight.
They are the only individuals to have competed in all 15 of the National Senior Games
, which take place every two years.
At 86, True is the youngest member of that exclusive club.
So what is it that keeps this life-long athlete going?
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“It’s just something that I enjoy doing…and always have my whole life.”
The Senior Olympics play host to a wide variety of events from tap dancing to baseball. The variety of events available is a good thing according to True who says the games help “keep older people active.”
In order to make it to the National Senior games, participants must qualify in their events and be at least 50 years old. Local qualifying sites include Springfield, Illinois and Columbia, Missouri. True usually travels to Columbia. Medals are awarded in each event based on five year age groups.
True has competed in a range of sporting events at the games, including the 200 meter dash, bowling and miniature golf, winning almost 3,000 medals along the way.
In the most recent St. Louis Senior Olympics, one of the events True participated in was table tennis, which he confesses is not his best event.
Shuffleboard, however, he has proved the exact opposite. His current partner is from New York and they only meet once a year at the games. The pair have medaled three times as a team.
“It turned out I’m pretty good,” True said. “We’ve normally gotten the Gold.”
But winning medals has not been the most rewarding aspect of the Senior Olympics to True.
“Just being involved, seeing people after a while that you will see almost every year only once a year,” is what drives True, he said. “Don’t get so wrapped up that you’ve got to win at all cost. Enjoy it, enjoy what you are doing … the winning or losing will come.”
True says there are no secrets to staying active or to winning so many medals. He follows no special diet. He doesn’t use specific training techniques for shuffleboard or table tennis.
“I believe in exercise, I go to the Y every morning,” he said.
At the YMCA True always does a variety of weights and runs on the treadmill.
True had hip replacement surgery 20 years ago and, more recently, in September 2017, he underwent back surgery. In June, at the last National Senior Games, the doctors had not quite figured out what was causing True so much pain in his back. Despite the discomfort he still competed and medaled with his partner in the shuffleboard.
True’s doctor, who gave him exercises to do while recovering, was impressed with the way he healed following surgery.
“’You are doing so well you don’t have to do them (the exercises) anymore unless you want to keep it up,’” True recalled his doctor telling him, “but I go to the Y every morning anyway.”
In addition, True still teaches college business courses at Florissant Valley, a St. Louis Community College system member. This semester he has both micro and macroeconomics courses. There is one business course he won’t touch though -- accounting.
“All those numbers,” he exclaimed with a laugh.
True’s real passion is the youth exchange program through the Rotary Club of O’Fallon. Over the course of his time with this program, True has hosted 36 international students.
The next National Senior Games will take place in Albuquerque New Mexico in June 2019 and True plans to make his mark there.
“I plan to compete as long as I can, that’s the way I feel about most things,” he said.