Local Senior Olympics athlete hopes to inspire as he is inspired
El Centro resident Robert Silva, 54, is continuing to compete in the Senior Olympics. Recently, Silva had a humbling experience at the event in San Diego. (IVP FILE PHOTO / November 11, 2012)
The sole Imperial Valley competitor at the September Senior Olympics at Mesa College in San Diego, Silva suffered an injury that slowed him down and allowed him to enjoy the super-seniors who competed.
“I got to do the pole vault and it was my first time ever,” Silva said. “You get four tries and it was a dream come true because I’ve always wanted to do that.
“On the last hurdle I got greedy and God put me in place,” he said with a laugh.
Dozens of seniors from San Diego between the ages of 49 and 103 competed in 30 different sports at the September Games.
Silva was still able to get third place in the triple jump and high jump, while getting plenty of time to watch individuals who were 20-30 years older than him compete athletically.
“That injury was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “Because I was injured, I had to compete at the minimum height and length on everything.
“I realized God’s lesson was to be with the elders and feel their pains as they compete,” Silva said. “It was very inspiring that I got to be with the elders.”
Silva is nothing if not energetic, with his enthusiasm and “go go GO!” attitude shining through whether it’s via face-to-face conversation, text, or email.
It’s that enthusiasm that has him convinced more people from the Imperial Valley need to get involved with the Senior Olympics of San Diego.
“If we can get more seniors contacting me, then maybe we can get some groups together and represent the Valley at the Senior Olympics,” Silva said.
“There’s something for everybody — darts, archery, bowling; last year we even had skateboarding,” he said. “If there’s a sport that you would like to try out, then go for it!”
September’s list of competitors included a 90-year-old swimmer and 103-year-old bowler, the latter of which even played three-on-three basketball.
“It starts at 49, so if you turn 49 any time next year then you can enter as a 50-year-old and every five years marks a different age group,” Silva said.
“Hopefully we can reach some of the people who have excuses in the Imperial Valley,” he said. “I’m thankful to Jacques ’N Jills and Rudy (Seanez’s) Sports Academy, but there are other places you can go in the evening or early morning to escape that heat and train.”
The reason Silva tries so hard at not just athletic competition but at convincing other locals to join him is for both health and inspiration for future generations.
“It’s about healthy living and fitness … it’s about setting an example and raising the bar,” he said. “I hear 30- and 40-year-olds down here complain that they’re too old to play basketball, but I play with 80-year-olds in San Diego.
“It’s great to see these competitors’ grandkids and great-grandkids, so you’re also setting the example for them,” Silva said. “It covers all generations.”
Next year will be a state Senior Olympics qualifier held at Mesa College, followed a year after by the state games themselves.
For anyone interested in joining Silva by representing the Imperial Valley at these games, contact him at (760) 336-1445 and check out more information at www.sdseniorgames.org