Nixon passes bronze bill

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

2003 wasn’t the first year that Helen Nixon qualified for the National Senior Games. It was just the first time that she’d competed.

&uot;I made it the past two times, but they were too far away,&uot; says the 85-year-old Courtland woman, referring to the 1999 and 2001 games, which were held in Orlando, Fla. and Baton Rouge, La. &uot;I wasn’t upset, because no one I knew was going either.&uot;


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Though her previous &uot;qualifications&uot; had been in badminton, Nixon decided to sharpen a skill that she’d been practicing since childhood; horseshoe tossing. After qualifying at the state championships at the University of Virginia, Nixon was able to take her first trip to the Olympics, which were held in Hampton Roads for the first time.

On Tuesday, the only Virginian in the 85-89 age group at the Chesapeake City Park competition finished 1-2 to become the first area woman to win a bronze medal.

&uot;I was just honored to be a part of something so big,&uot; she recalls. &uot;I felt like I really helped Virginia by winning a medal. A lot of my winning was based on luck.

&uot;Your eyes should always be focused on the top of the pole,&uot; she recommends to novice pitchers. &uot;Don’t ever throw the shoe; pitch it up into the air!&uot;

Her physical training was in effect long before the Games. A few years ago, Nixon’s doctor told her that the cartilage in one of her knees was so worn out that she needed surgery. Not surprisingly, she wasn’t an eager patient.

&uot;I went to Suffolk, and a doctor there gave me a second opinion,&uot; she says. &uot;He told me that my knee wasn’t worn out, but that it needed to be exercised.&uot;

She started going to the Franklin YMCA. Now her knee is a strong as ever. &uot;I swim and I take aerobics classes,&uot; she says. &uot;I would recommend that to anyone, because it saved me from surgery.&uot;