Tryon resident wins gold at National Senior Olympics

Published 10:55 am Monday, July 11, 2011

Carol Jean Vosburgh swam, biked and ran her way to two gold medals at the National Senior Olympics held in Houston in late June.

Carol Jean Vosburgh

“The competition was quite brutal. You think you’re the best of the best, but then you see how good everyone else is,” she said. “Plus, it was more than 100 degrees and windy in Houston that week.”
Vosburgh, a Tryon resident, captured a gold medal in the 20K cycling road race and the triathlon events for the 65-69 age group. She also nabbed silver medals in the 5K and 10K time trials, setting personal records in each event.
“I set a personal record so it didn’t matter to me what color the medal was – it was still gold to me,” she said.
The National Senior Olympic games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for athletes 50-plus and older, attracting more than 11,000 competitors in 18 venues from all 50 states.
Vosburgh said even to make it to the competition took effort. To qualify, an athlete must place first or second in area events and then place first, second or third at the state level.
This was Vosburgh’s second trip; she also competed at the national level four years ago.
Though she admits to loving the thrill of competition, Vosburgh said pursuing this active lifestyle is something she does for personal enrichment, not for medals.
At age 38, Vosburgh found herself a single mother with three kids and in need of something positive in her life. She quickly took up running and discovered the enrichment she had been seeking.
“I find that, for me, it’s my time to think, it’s a type of spiritual meditation. I never even wear headphones because I don’t need them,” she said. “It’s my peace and my quiet time.”
Vosburgh also doesn’t wear a watch or train with a coach.
As part of her regular routine, Vosburgh runs 4-8 miles and swims about a half mile, three times a week. She and husband, Kip, can be found running in quite a few local races, such as the recent Firecracker and Coon Dog Day 5Ks. The pair also takes a regular bike ride up the Saluda Grade to Saluda, where they have breakfast before heading back down.
A bike accident last fall almost put Vosburgh out of commission.
She and her husband were on their way back from Saluda one morning when a car turned in front of her a mile or two from her house. The collision sent Vosburgh flying over the vehicle. Her injuries required surgery to place a plate and six screws in her left knee. She remained on crutches for two months.
“[Being able to compete in the Senior Olympics] was very, very special  – It’s a miracle actually that I was able to get back, at this age, and bike, run and swim again,” she said.
Vosburgh said the accident couldn’t stop her. She pushed for a quick surgery so that she could begin rehab and make her way back to her active life.
“We’re so blessed to live in a place like this where we can enjoy so many of these activities in such a beautiful setting,” she said. “I didn’t want to miss out on all of that.”

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