Alexandrians place at National gamesTom Lynch, Susan Paulson and Fritz Bukowski all brought back hardware from the Texas competition.
The 2011 National Senior Games in Texas gave three Alexandria athletes an opportunity to prove themselves against the best in their field earlier this summer.
Tom Lynch, Fritz Bukowski and Susan Paulson all qualified for the games by placing at the Minnesota Senior Games held in Alexandria last year. All three proved to be some of the top athletes in their age group after everything was said and done at Nationals.
Lynch brought home a bronze medal in the triathlon. He battled the high humidity and temperatures near 100 degrees to take the third-place finish in the Male 60-64 Division.
Lynch came out of the first leg of the tri having to make up some ground after the swim. The 63-year-old did that by gaining six places in the bike leg after a time of 34:42.6. That was the second fastest time in his division.
Lynch continued to make up time in the run. His time of 27:08.3 capped off his third-place finish in a total time of 1:13:46.2.
“It was good to find out how a person stacks up on a national level,” Lynch said. “My success is credited in large part to my friends on the Bike and Fitness rides who encourage and push me, my swimming friends who have helped me and to my family who encourage me. Most importantly, God has given me health and determination.”
Bukowski finished with a bronze medal in his age group, as well. He took third in the male’s 50-54 division in racquetball. Bukowski had to battle back from a 15-12 loss in the opener against Jeff Edwards. He did so by winning 15-4 in game two and 11-6 in the decisive game three.
Bukowski has been playing racquetball since 1983. He plays in a local league at Racquetball Plus and plans to compete in the Minnesota Senior Games in Mankato next summer in hopes of qualifying for the National games in Cleveland, Ohio in 2013.
Paulson came home with ribbons in three of the four cycling events she took part in.
She ran into some tire trouble but dug deep to finish the 40K road race in eighth place. Paulson got a flat tire near the 24th mile.
“The only options were to quit the race and ride the sag wagon back or attempt to complete the race,” she said.
Paulson chose the latter and persevered over the next couple miles.
“I initially took off the biking shoes thinking I could run/walk my bike in faster,” she said. “But the heat of the pavement forced me to put them on after the first mile. Help was offered along the way, but I was unable to accept or face disqualification.”
Paulson was met at the finish line after 26.53 miles by cheering fans as she crossed the line with her bike and a big smile. She finished in a time of 2:01:19.94.
“One of the other bikers had a motto that stated, ‘I can always beat those who quit,’ ” she said. “It certainly applied in this case.”
Paulson also finished 10th in the 20K road race with a time of 40:54.45.
Her favorite races came in the 5K and 10K time trials. She finished the 5K trial in a personal-best time of 8:05.02 to finish in seventh place. Her 17:41.33 finish in the 10K left her in sixth place.
The games in Texas were the second National Senior Games that Paulson has competed in. It was a special moment for her as it marked the 30th anniversary of the day she found out that she had congenital heart disease that would require surgery.
Paulson was born with a 3-cm atrial septal defect – a hole between the top chambers of her heart. It resulted in enlargement of the heart and a 70 percent shunt causing blood to flow in the wrong direction.
“It was successfully repaired in 1981 at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis while I was a medical student,” Paulson said. “Following surgery I was doubtful whether I would ever resume athletic activities and am grateful to be able to compete at this level.”