Lake Charles' Poche wins three gold medals at National Senior Games

By By Troy LaFleur / American Press

John Poché returned from Cleveland last weekend with three gold medals from the biennial National Senior Games.

Hosted at Baldwin Wallace University,

the games welcomed more than 11,000 competitors from throughout the

United States and

10 foreign countries. Contestants must qualify for the games

through the state level and are eligible to compete in 18 events

in various age groups.

Poché, an 85-year-old from Lake Charles, competed in the men’s 85-89 age group and won the gold in the hammer throw, javelin

(70 feet, 7 inches) and high jump (3-7 1/4).

With his throw of 96-11 in the hammer, Poché not only took first place but shattered the former national record by more than

15 feet.

He was awarded a silver medal in the shot put and finished fifth in the discus.

Poché began competing in Senior Games

more than 20 years ago in a variety of events, but was eventually drawn

to the throwing

events and high jump, where he now excels. He also competes in USA

Track and Field sponsored events as well as pentathlons.

“I started a little over 20 years ago

when they had the first senior olympics in Lake Charles. I’ve always

been very interested

in sports and I ran track in high school, but was never an

outstanding athlete,” said Poché. “When I started at the senior

olympics I did a little bit of everything, but I wasn’t very

interested in the track and field events, except that I did a

little bit of running. I noticed that the guys doing the throwing

events seemed to be having the most fun, and now I compete

in all five throwing events.”

He attended his first National Senior Games in 1999 in Orlando, FL, and was able to capture his first national championships

in 2009 at the games in Palo Alto, CA. His gold medals that year came in the hammer throw and the high jump.

According to Poché the enjoyment of competition and meeting new people, along with the drive to stay healthy are his motivating

factors to keep competing in the games.

“I love the competition, but I find

that competing in track and field gives me a good reason to stay

healthy,” said Poché

“In the senior olympics you get to meet some wonderful people and I

have been able to attract others to get involved in the

games. It gives people a good reason to get off the couch and

develop a more active lifestyle.”