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Gold medalist at 71

71-year-old U.S. Navy Veteran Liz Crotty won gold at the Virtual National Veterans Golden Age Games in the cycling competition. Photo provided by Liz Crotty.
71-year-old U.S. Navy Veteran Liz Crotty won gold at the Virtual National Veterans Golden Age Games in the cycling competition. Photo provided by Liz Crotty.

At 71-years-old, U.S. Navy Veteran and Ralph H. Johnson VAMC patient Liz Crotty is adding “gold medalist” to her list of accomplishments. Crotty placed first in this year’s National Veterans Golden Age Games cycling competition for her age group.

Like most events in 2020, the Golden Age Games looked a bit different—held virtually to minimize COVID-19 exposure. The event typically brings nearly 900 Veterans, ages 55 and up, to a rotating city location to engage in a week of competition, fitness and camaraderie. This year’s national event was an at-home version, a series of challenges and competitions allowing Veterans to still participate from their very own home.

Crotty had been planning for months to attend the Golden Age Games, originally scheduled to be held in June in Madison, Wisconsin. When the event became virtual, Crotty knew she still wanted to participate.

“The virtual event was very convenient,” said Crotty.

To enter, Crotty had to register online and then validate her 20K (12.4 miles) cycle time with a screen shot of her apple watch. She completed the distance in 57 minutes, 30 seconds, earning the gold medal for females ages 70 to 74.

Crotty typically cycles twice that far, logging around 26 miles on her weekly ride with her bicycle club in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. She also stays fit by swimming a mile each day at her local pool.

“I started bicycling about 10 years ago,” said Crotty. “I just found out about this club and got this really nice bike.”

Turns out that really nice bike is what motivates her to keep moving. It makes her want to become a better biker.

With knee and back problems, she credits cycling with giving her “a way to get around and see her area,” while staying active.

Her local cycle club also travels throughout the year to ride and explore.

“Bicycling is a way for me to get out an exercise and see other parts of the country you couldn’t see with a car,” said Crotty.

During the pandemic cycling has also been a great outlet to get out of the house, while still being safe and following public health guidelines. Her club has maintained their rides throughout the COVID-19 quarantine.

Crotty’s active lifestyle is exactly what the spirit of the games is all about, promoting a “Fitness for Life” motto. While competition at the games is certainly a yearly highlight, the event hopes to inspire aging Veterans to live a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. Whether in-person, or virtual, Crotty and her fellow Veteran competitors are inspiring others to get out and be active—no matter your age or obstacles.

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