Philipp Djang, a 65-year-old from Las Cruces, was among a group of 36 swimmers who broke records as the events in the pool concluded Wednesday at the National Senior Games.
He was also one of 14 who now hold multiple National Senior Games records. Djang is the record-holder in the 50-yard backstroke, 100 back and 200 back for the 65-69 age division.
Djang, who was featured in a story on NSGA.com, has been gaining plenty of attention at the National Senior Games as he was a torch runner representing New Mexico at the National Senior Games Flame Arrival Ceremony.
“The highlight of my 14 years at the games is the torch run,” Djang told NSGA.com. “Not many get picked, and I was really surprised and happy that I was able to represent New Mexico. It is like the high point of my journey and a real honor to be able to do it in my home state.”
Djang has won over 26 gold medals and four silver medals since his first appearance in 2005 at the National Senior Games.
He has also shown some versatility as he has been a multi-sport athlete participating in racquetball, triathlons and comedy during the talent competition at the New Mexico Senior Olympics.
“Every athlete that is here is on a path, we are all trying to get better and it doesn’t really matter if you come in first, second, third or set a record – that’s not the real goal,” he said. “The real goal is trying to improve yourself and having a positive mental attitude.”
Djang competed in swimming at Southern Oregon University and earned a Ph.D. in engineering at New Mexico State University.
He spent 36 years working with the Army as a senior operations and research analyst at White Sands Missile Range. He was involved in developing an electronic device to detect roadside bombs.
He said he dedicated his efforts to his mother who has Alzheimer’s.
MEDAL COUNT: California is in the lead for the medal count with 255. New Mexico athletes remain in second place with 206 medals. Florida (183) and Texas (164) round out the top 4. For official results in all sports and the updated medal count, visit the National Senior Games results page at nsga.com/2019results.
FRIDAY: Bowling concludes at the National Senior Games.
Meanwhile, the road races begin at Balloon Fiesta Park and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
The weekend begins with a day full of competition, including racket sports and basketball.
For fans and participants looking for something else to do apart from watching the National Senior Games, the Village Health & Wellness Expo is available. In addition, the expo features beautiful music and several activities, including a powerlift class.