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National Senior Games: Californians, New Mexicans lead in medals

By late Saturday, the first day of heavy competition at the National Senior Games, more than 50 medals (gold-silver-bronze) had been awarded, per the organization’s website (NSGA.com)

Entrants from California had won seven medals (one gold, one silver, five bronze) to lead all states. New Mexico, meanwhile, had six medal winners (1-3-2).

New Mexico has the largest group of athletes at the Games, about one of every nine in the sea of 13,712 expected to register.

Among the expected highlights Sunday, per the organization’s website and city officials:

NEW MEXICANS: Diane Mueller is defending her gold medal today in swimming (400 yards individual medley, ages 85-89).

• Qian-Yun Zhang is defending gold in badminton (women’s singles, 55-59).

• Albuquerque’s Larry Johnson is competing today in the 50-meter dash at the UNM Track and Soccer Complex.

• Las Cruces friends and training partners Jordan Wolle and Phil Djang are both competing in the swimming competition, but not against each another. Wolle will swim the men’s 90-94 200-yard freestyle, and Djang will enter the men’s 65-69 100 backstroke.

Longtime Albuquerque city councilor Brad Winter, a former All-America pole vaulter, renews a rivalry with an out-of-town competitor. Phil Millimanis of Washington beat Winter at the 2017 National Senior Games for gold in men’s 65-69 pole vaulting. The two are talking friendly smack about meeting again on Winter’s home turf.

OTHERS: Athlete Dottie Gray from Shrewsbury, Mo., is in the women’s 90-94 50 meters. Gray has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, and in 2017 she set the American masters record in the 90-94 400 meters.

• Doug Springer of Saddlebrooke, Ariz., is back after setting six Games swimming records in the 70-74 age division, including a time of 5:28.47 in the 400-yard individual medley to break the U.S. Masters Swimming short-course yards national record for the 70-74 age group.

• Myrna Moline will be participating in her fifth Games and is entered in the women’s 70-74 swimming breaststroke today. She and her husband relocated to Birmingham, Ala., from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but they moved back to New Orleans two years ago.

While in Birmingham, Myrna joined a senior swim class for fitness and ended up competing in state and national games. Her husband, Glennon Bazzle, usually golfs in the National Senior Games, but is in town cheering on his wife this time.

A broad daily schedule to the Games can be found in Around Town on page D8. For more specific information, visit www.nsga.com/schedule.

There also are sports-specific pages on the website.

OTHER STUFF TO DO: The Village, located at the Albuquerque Convention Center, is the daytime hub of activity where athletes and the public can enjoy exhibits, activities and entertainment in a festive atmosphere.

Activities start there Sunday at 7:45 a.m. and will be ongoing all day, wrapping up with festivities at Civic Plaza from 5 to 9 p.m.

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