When Waldorf resident Norris Hanes crossed the finish line first in the 50-meter dash at the recent National Senior Games in New Mexico, his ascension to capturing the gold medal was soon doubly rewarded.
Hanes, 52, who ran track at the University of Maryland in the 1980s and later competed professionally, not only won the 50, but his winning time of 6.45 seconds established a new meet record for his age group in that event. Norris and his mother, Debra, were among a contingent of Maryland athletes who earned a total of 12 medals in the Senior Olympics.
"When I crossed the finish line first, I was really happy," Norris Hanes said. "But when one of the Senior Olympics officials came over to me and told me that I had broken the meet record, I was overwhelmed. I really couldn't believe it. It really caught me by surprise. I never went there looking for a record. I just wanted to compete and hopefully win one or two events."
Hanes also won the 100 (11.82) in his age bracket and finished second in the 200 (24.46) during the week-long event at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Fellow Maryland residents Don McGee and Oscar Peyton also each earned multiple gold medals in their respective age groups. Peyton took the 65- to 69-year-old men's 100 (12.87) and 200 (26.91), while McGee won the 55-59 men's 50 (6.55) and 100 (12.05).
"I was very happy with the way that I performed at the Senior Olympics," Hanes said, "but watching Oscar and Don compete showed me that I'm still going to have to train hard and work hard in order to compete in those age brackets in a few years. Oscar and Don train together at Thomas Stone High School and they have both taken me under their wing."
Peyton, 66, a New Orleans native who now lives in Accokeek, got into running and track meets somewhat belatedly. The Grambling University graduate and retired computer programmer has emerged on the national scene although he was nearly 50 when he first began to pursue training for track meets and now he is a national and world champion.
"It started when I was just a couple of years shy of 50," said Peyton, who has now competed in the National Senior Games Association each year since 2004. "I had just had a physical and my cholesterol was above 200, so I knew that I had to become more active. I love going. Every year they try to have it some place different, so you get to see the whole country."
Debra Hanes, 72, finished eighth in the women's 70-74 javelin. One year earlier, she joined her son at the Maryland Senior Games and earned a berth in nationals. She had previously competed in the NSGA two years ago in Florida and in 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.
"My mom still loves to go out there and compete and it's great to be able to go out there with her," Norris Hanes said. "You see a lot of athletes older than her out there and they've been through a lot. There was even a woman there who was 103 and she was amazing. She stole the show. That's quite an accomplishment to be able to compete at that age."