Can you run 1,600 meters in under seven minutes? Springfield resident Joanne Shabelski can – and she’s got a gold medal to prove it. At 58 years young, Shabelski placed first in her age group at the 2019 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO), and even achieved a new women’s record for the 1,600-meter run event. Her time of 6:59 is the fastest in her age group since NVSO began tracking records in 2011.
Since 1982, the NVSO has provided senior adults 50 years and older in Fairfax County and beyond with an opportunity for competition, self-improvement and fellowship through recreational physical activities, competitive athletics and non-physical games. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded by age group and gender in events ranging from track and swimming to Scrabble and jigsaw puzzles.
The popular event attracts more than 900 individuals annually. This year’s NVSO, held September 14-28 at locations throughout Northern Virginia, drew participants from across Fairfax County, many of whom are also frequent visitors to senior centers run by the county’s Department of Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS).
According to Ruth Junkin, director of the Herndon Senior Center, her members went above and beyond for this year’s NVSO, practicing together and placing at several events. She said, “Our seniors didn’t just win medals – they also gained camaraderie, better health, friendships and fun!”
Four of these Herndon Senior Center members – Barbara Kaminsky (of Herndon), Gigi MacLaughlin (Reston), Xiaobang Shi (Sterling) and Shaw Zee (Reston) – swept the table tennis event by earning gold medals in each of their age groups. Mr. Zee, who serves as Director at Large of the Herndon Senior Center Council, also earned a silver medal in the 1,600-meter walk and a bronze medal in 8-ball pool.
Additionally, NCS staff volunteered at the NVSO. Kristen Lasich, NCS Manager of Technology and Communication Services, enjoyed timing swimmers at the September 20 event. She said of the experience, “I’m grateful that the county provides volunteer leave so that I can be a part of this wonderful event! Timing and cheering the swim events was so much fun. I’m absolutely inspired by these amazing athletes!”
For more information on NVSO, visit https://nvso.us.