Howell wins first medal at 81

Published 3:45 pm Monday, July 3, 2017

Elizabeth Howell of Verbena continues to show that age is truly just a number.

Howell, 81 years old, won a bronze medal in the lady’s long jump at the 2017 National Senior Games on June 2-15. She was the oldest competitor in the 80-84 age group.

“To me it’s relaxation,” Howell said. “It’s like a vacation, because you’re doing something that you want to do.”

She has been competing in the games since 1990 and had been awarded several ribbons but no medals, which are handed out to the top three finishers in an event.

However, that finally changed at this year’s competition, which was held just up the road in Birmingham.

“I had to come to back home to Alabama for me to get my first medal,” Howell said. “Thank the good Lord.”

The National Senior Games take place every two years, with qualifying taking place during the off years.

The site of competition rotates to cities throughout the nation with the 2019 Games to be hosted by Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Howell has used the Games as a way of traveling and seeing various regions of the country.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tucson, Arizona, Orlando, Florida and Kentucky are just a few of the places that Howell has visited over the years.

“We just have a ball with it and you make new friends every time you go,” Howell said. “You don’t forget friends.”

Her experience this year was also different in that she had some company with her along the way, as her son Danny also competed after recently turning 60 years old. Horseshoes was the event he participated in.

Not only were the Howells representing the United States against competitors from around the world, but they were doing so as a mother and son tandem.

“It was a lot of fun meeting different people and doing different things,” Danny Howell said.

However, the fun does not stop there, as the two are already looking ahead to competing in the Masters Games of Alabama in October.

The long jump was just one of several track and field events that Howell qualified for. She also earned ribbons in events such as the 50-meter run, discus and javelin.

Prior to the track and field events, Howell got her start by playing softball.

“I had played softball for 43 years,” Howell said. “That’s how it all got started.”