Tom Lough and Andrew Walker

Recorded June 30, 2021 Archived June 29, 2021 40:14 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: atl004458


Andrew Walker (62) talks with his friend Tom Lough (78) about his experience in the Senior Games.

Subject Log / Time Code

TL talks about his involvement in the National Senior Games beginning in the 1980s.
TL talks about being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, along with a hear condition, while training for the games.
TL talks about his participation in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
TL talks about athletes being advocates and their involvement in protests.


  • Tom Lough
  • Andrew Walker

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:05 My name is Andrew Mordecai. Walker. My age is 62. Today's date is June 30th, 2021.

00:16 I'm in St, Petersburg, Florida.

00:19 My partner and Khali. Today is Tom Lough.

00:24 And they are, or he is a participant in the National Senior Games.

00:36 Thank you, and my name is Tom Lough my angel 78 and today is June 30th, 2021. So and we got that, right. I'm in Round Rock, Texas, USA, and I'm working today with Andrew Walker up to the National Senior Games.

00:54 Thank you. Tom. What time this is really good because we've never had opportunity to shake hands. So it's the it's an honor for me to interview today on story for and to see you virtually and I will definitely know who I'm looking for. When I see you at the next games in 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in May, let's start off, but I want to ask you a couple questions here about your experience in the games. And that is, how did you get involved with the national Senior Games?

01:33 National senior games. That was that name because when I first encountered something called a national Senior Olympics back in the mid-1980s. It was very interesting to me. I was still in sort of middle Asia that time and I made up member making a folder and putting in there all the national Senior Olympics stuff that I could gather and I do follow it to the development of the organization for several years, but was never in the position to do anything with them. By the time I got old enough to compete, that was sort of a frustrating. But meanwhile, I was so athletic. My active mostly in running. I enjoyed competing at these. So local mile runs and

02:33 Run on the day of the anniversary of the town or something like that. And now that was fun to use that as motivation to stay in shape and usually somewhere in the neighborhood of, you know, 5 minutes after we moved to Kentucky. And I got older and that my schedule I slow down just a little bit. Then I was able to, to follow the, the new organization by then was renamed National Senior Games. And I saw that on 2007 National Senior Games.

03:26 Competition or meet or whatever in the in Louisville. So and 2006 Senior Games and around the track and field information and decided. I'd go ahead and see what I could do in the 1500 because that horse fun, mostly to the mile run that I had been training for a while. So I went to the meat.

03:56 Kentucky in 2016 and ran out of something and 5 to go to Lewisville, senior game show, 2007. That was the first time that I was officially involved with.

04:20 Well, how did you do in those games in? Kentucky to the times, I had been turning in, but I ended up with seven minutes 20 something. It was, it was just awful and I couldn't figure out why I have plenty of competitive. I just was so out of energy and out of breath. I just couldn't figure it out. But I do remember that how inspired I was by the other competitors were there. You see, this is my first national Senior Games and the first time I

05:20 I've been in the presence of older athletes than me, and it was just amazing to see a day when you were throwing the shot and discus and who were high jumping and even situation there to be a hipster is 1500 race bright.

06:05 You learn some things about yourself from that experience. I have full confidence. And in what ways can be at, that race was so far below the expected. What I knew I could do, when I had done previously. I decided I needed to go see my doctor and see if there's any medical things going on that I wasn't aware of it. So they did some tests on me and I noticed that is something called heart block and I found that I had an abnormally low.

07:01 Heart rate because of the way my heart and deteriorated in an electrical way of some kind of fast enough during the race to give me the blood fairly quickly because I was running much faster. And so trying to figure out what was going on and they said, well as heart monitor for 24 hours so we can get a better picture of what's going on. And then I came back and said, your heart sounds okay during the day. But at night, it goes down to a very low level and it goes down a level.

08:01 That it's possible that it could have serious consequences for you. And so we need to make sure that you're going to make it through and I'll also give you energy and your daily activity. So, so now I'm talkin about a heart rate of 30 beats per minute or less. It was, it was so so

08:37 What is the weather in August in August? I said, alright, we're going to give you a pacemaker. We're going to have to put a pacemaker in that your heart rate can be stabilized in the evening. So you don't have to worry about your give you a minimum heart rate of 60 beats per minute, but then we can program the pacemaker so that when you start exercising, it will increase your heart rate. Fortunately to, for your effort.

09:14 Okay, so we sign up and went the Vanderbilt and I think I'm going to technology. Anyway, I really enjoyed learning about this 50-cent piece size thing. They slipped in under my skin and then they put a couple of wires connected, the different parts of my heart, so that it would send the electric signals at the right time for the, for the, for the beach to happen. But at the end, after all, I got everything done, I went to almost there. Stuff, I could tell him you need a difference in my energy level because

10:04 Before I had my pacemaker, I couldn't walk up a complete flight of stairs without having to stop about halfway and rested. And after the pacemaker, I can take the stairs two at a time. OK? And I got to to, to starting to jog and work, work out again, and then I started noticing some other symptoms that were kind of discouraging, and so, I went back to the hospital and they did some tests and found that this is still in 2007 and found that I had that they detected cancer. Oh, man.

11:04 Prostate cancer and said that we need to get that taken care of 20 me. What else can happen? So by the end of December 2007, I don't recall on my treatment for prostate cancer and then was trying to turn the corner for 2008. Well, close to things happen within months of each other. It was very discouraging. I'm pretty positive person in general, but it was really discouraging and frustrating and I don't know if I don't want to use the word depressing, but it's happened or what, but I decided Well, the Lord doesn't give you more than you can handle it one time and I'm just going to turn this.

12:04 Send Julia a batch processing and we have to okay, bring back end of the workout and so forth, but I wanted to point out that if I did not have the national Senior Games to look forward to, I don't think I wouldn't have been so motivated to get back in shape. I firmly believe that each of us needs like gold to be working. And when I finished with the Spacemaker and prostate cancer.

13:04 I just needed something to pull me forward and the prospect of the 2009. National Senior Games was exactly what I needed at. Exactly the right time for me. So it was an Archer. What was that? The I decided I'm going to see what I can do to improve my

13:38 1500 time for for 2009 games. I did that and it went through. Qualified with and I did pretty well there.

14:07 I think I finished seventh or eight with a five-minute 50-something time, which is greatly improved over the seven and a half. So it's like I can say to myself, I'm back.

14:24 Great, but I do want to point out that if I hadn't had the goal.

14:31 Working towards the national Senior Games, and pulling me forward. You are just don't know what I would have done. I appreciate the national Senior Games, being there for that because not only that, but as I pointed out before the opportunity to be among a group of senior athletes that were so inspiring, just by what they were doing again. I just immersed myself in that atmosphere and drama Alto being surrounded by people older than I was and all the stuff. It was just amazing experience. So I hope

15:31 Meaning for me in a special significance for me. Yes.

15:37 Yeah, that's actually that's an inspiring story in itself. And when I think about, you know, challenging but you had a sub with prostate cancer and the challenges of disease hard. And then I think about what happened recently, with covid-19. You were more prepared, but having had face, those challenges, I think. So you're in the covid-19 smart, but I was certainly in the vulnerable age group.

16:30 And and I have been suffering, some sort of pulmonary relax. I've been worried about my cardiovascular or response. I'm having difficulty with my cardiovascular endurance right now. I don't know why. But so, I was a little worried about the pointer aspect of the kobin situation by doing unnecessary trips, and so forth. And so, the Coba ruins doesn't have that much of an impact on me, as I thought, it might have great that was in there was due to a couple of factors.

17:30 Usually was probably a little better than the average person in my age group because I had continued to to do running regularly. And then I think the attitude I had about movements and staying in shape that's for a thing that was encouraged by my participation in the National Senior Games. Help with that National Senior Games, since Louisville through Birmingham in 2017. And by the time we got to Albuquerque and all this stuff was first starting and things just are not working out well.

18:30 For me here. So I think my own ability has been brought forward now. It's a 2022 and I'm really looking forward to getting over to Fort Lauderdale in May of 2022 us. Right. We we made some amendments to the qualification process because of covid-19. You, you are participating in 2017. So in Birmingham that gives you do a a favorable, qualifying position it, if you have not had the opportunity to qualify in any state games. Yeah. Well, I'm playing to go to the great one.

19:30 Games and it wasn't all that encouraging, but I stayed with her and kept improving. I think I've improved the 800 but I ended up getting the highest wonderful, they work hard and and they are able to really put it all out on the track there and I think it's wonderful that bring out the best in all of us. And I think it's up to us who don't cross the finish line first, to make sure whoever is ahead of us learned their slot.

20:28 Can we do that in a respectful Manner? And I think they respect us for it everywhere. I see all the national Senior Games athletes their hug each other and help each other and the other winners control of losers and everybody respectful of each other regardless of their performance. Yeah, that would at that speak to that inspiration. So that there's a lot of connection and socialization in addition to competition. Yeah. Yeah.

21:05 You know, you were a or you are an Olympian from the 68 Olympics and you just shared about your challenges with your health and you really had to work in in and work hard physically to get back into shape. I know you have to work really hard to prepare for the 68 games, which is there. Any comparison between the preparation for the games and 68 Olympic Games? And you're preparing the

21:47 Keep your health and well-being. It it took. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think there's a bumper sticker that says work. Smarter not harder. Okay. Back in the day. I was training for the modern fence half left the sun Olympic event that's going on the program since 1912 that involves horseback riding over jumps fence pistol shooting swimming and cross-country running and back. In my day in the mid-sixties. We had to work out and every sport everyday that made for a long tiring day and leave with a whole lot of time for other activities, like professional activity, social activity, or anything else. You want to do, except sleep or rest, but during that time.

22:42 I tried to study myself and learn about not just the physical aspects of preparing for something like that. But also, the mental and spiritual aspects as well. Because I feel these are Universal things that can be brought forward regardless of how old someone is mental. Attitude has stood me in good stead Through The Years where I try to view things from a posture perspective, and try to try to find a way to move forward, instead of living in the past or feeling depressed, or discouraged about something.

23:42 Nothing we can do about it, but we can revisit it to an extent and learn from it and take these lessons and help ourselves and others make improvements in their lifestyle, or there are accomplished much going forward. So I ain't going forward. It's probably one of my bigger bumper stickers and I learned from the also during my luck. I learned the value of spiritual face. I have a number of challenging situations that I had to work through during the 66 through 68 timeframe and immediately thereafter. And if it wasn't for my spiritual face, I don't think I would have come through as strongly. I know, it wouldn't come through as strongly as I was able to at the time and I've tried to maintain those mental attitude.

24:42 And this aspect of spiritual faith in my life ever since, and then to be applying them today in my preparations. Now, that's all I have one event are well, two events 854, that simplifies the training that may be a time traveler too. And that's pretty much a pretty much ready or for the races. But but making time during a schedule that has lots of other priorities, has always been very flexible and helping me and then understand that. Oh, yeah, that's got to run between such and such. And so and so the time

25:42 I guess the the summit you have to make some choices in terms of your, your support group for training. There's lots of running groups around. There are running Laboratories as lot of Technology available now, but I just decided to keep a low-key approach and to this run on my own. Pretty much by myself when I could and that that's work for me. I'm not sure work for everyone but it worked for me. And the other thing that I like to emphasize is that placed a very high value on throughout my my, my time especially during the time after 2007 and have always kept my doctors informed of

26:42 My situation always consulted with them on any particular challenges that I was going to place before myself. And I'd like to encourage anyone who might be thinking about, changing our lifestyle, to something a little more active. Perhaps. Please do that, only in consultation with your position. So that you have that additional medical perspective on that. Back in my day. We had a couple bumper stickers, one with no pain. No gain, and I'm sure you've heard of that one, but right, but there was this song and so back when I was young, we would always work through discomfort and we will work through pain up to the point where we were just short of injury and we would it would maintain

27:42 Our performance, right? At that level because that's what will be required just completed. That are there people who have performed up to the edge of injury of injuring their legs, or it at like gymnastics or any Maneuvers on the bar. So. Well, for me as a senior athlete athlete has changed my Approach. And so I work through discomfort up to the verge of pain and I no longer allow myself to endure any pain in my work out. So I'm going to go there and

28:42 Just don't want to go there. I don't want to fight Siri. Siri, Siri.

28:51 Work on my body, that goes beyond discomfort. So I'm not out to change the world. I'm not out to settle record or anything like that. I want to have fun. I want to maintain my body and a good solid physical condition and this liver.

29:19 A full life. We all have any older person. There's always a list of pains are going through. This always my foot hurts today, my back hurts to work through that and doing the medical community involved, in figure out to what extent can I work against this in my physical activity? David more than you wanted is great because you somehow I anticipated all of my questions and

30:06 So, you know, it's great because you were able to do it in in a in a very elegant way. I think this last bit this last bit that you, you brought out about the which actually illustrates wisdom, you know, you you are season now and I was going to ask you about advice and for other people that are considering getting ready for the senior games or people who are training. And I think you laid out a good principle and that's one principal in that is less. Sometimes it's better. That you don't have to push yourself. After, as you have AIDS. You don't have to put your push yourself as much. You need to be wise with your, a listen to your body and hopefully it's time is going on. People can be more sensitive to that. Although there are some people who try to train

31:06 A few weeks right? Before the games, and they went up, you know, doing some injury to themselves. And that's one thing I worry about is director of health. And wellbeing for the senior games. I want people to be fed and be active, but injury-free is best best as they can. Ya tell him. I have a couple other questions unless you want to ask me what I just said. Yeah, I think that's a great perspective because it would be for a person who has not had an active lifestyle. They come into contact with the concept of the national senior games that were wanting to get involved. We need to find ways for them to get to do so, gradually and safely so that they can enjoy the experience and not injure themselves, or get the screws themselves it in the front desk. And so that would be my constant. Anyone listening that

32:06 That we invite, you will love to have you with me. Hope that you would consider a more active lifestyle. Even if it's just putting one foot in front of the other a few more times a day. And by the way, there are walking competitions in the National Senior Games places open to anyone. You don't have, you don't have to qualify for that. You can pay the entry free and fee and and show up and walk there. Because I know we're running out of time here and I'm going to ask one question that I have to ask because I'm a fan of the 68 Olympics and and

32:55 This more recent years, there been against opportunities for athletes, to be involved with representing their sport. But also with issues that means nothing to them. Is there anything you want to reflect on that as you observed the 68 Olympics and compared to what's happening in the Olympic Arena. These days with what athletes stand for Allyson, Felix has been involved with women's issues and the right. So to speak to be pregnant and still be sponsored by Major, you know, brand that was you know, when Topic in and as you know, there have been a lot of things that are social experience these days around the social justice.

33:53 What do you think about some of those things are? Just so many perspectives issue and I'm not sure there's any right or wrong way to look at it. But what I like to do is to explore different perspectives as they relate to, what what has happened for sample back in 1968, when John, Carlos and Tommie Smith on the protest. I remember s old man, they mix the politics with the Olympics and I thought that I was just sort of went thing when I heard the news, but then I remember my childhood in Virginia and North Carolina with the with the different jump rope.

34:53 And I can understand a little bit about why they could be motivated to do something like that. And over the years. I've come to appreciate the courage that it took for them to, to do what they did on the stand.

35:13 I've also develop some other Prospectors from the point of view of organizers of events because I've done some event planning and organizing myself and recognize that there is a point of view from that of an organizer. That something that's unplanned or unexpected can in fact be our plan purpose of the event and I won't I don't think it's like anything but it is and the brown bring that forward to the present day is to point out that their fronts in the perspectives of the u.s. Olympic and paralympic committee and the perspective of the international Olympic Committee with respect to actions of athletes in the Olympic Games.

36:14 The u.s. Olympic and paralympic committee has adopted a to communicate some of their perspectives as part of their athletic experience and the international Olympic Committee has maintained a strong perspective on their rule number 50, which prohibits any expression of these. These types of tractors persists today, and, and I think the points out the complexity of the issue that it's important, for each of us to look at both sides of something and examine it with respect to our own fundamental beliefs and values. So I hope that is

37:14 Not sure where I come down after thinking about it a long time and I don't have any experience part of it.

37:24 Well, that's that's a very informed perspective and that actually will give us a good segue to another opportunity to talk again in the future and I will hold that those two ideas in mind as they a model for us to engage in future future interview. But also, I think it's great inside for the political world that we live in. Now, it's been able to hold different concepts in mine and so we can talk about that in the future and we can talk about your, your military experience in the future. We, we don't have time to do that, and we can talk about the 68 Olympic, alumni reunions you've done and you're in the, the oral history Legacy archive, at University of Texas. Those are all things you've been involved in. So,

38:23 There was a fascinating discussions, we can do it another time. Okay. Thank you so much. It's been wonderful, my pleasure. And you if your inspiration, well, I think you have the senior games organisers are there's one particular group though. I would like to point out that I don't think ever received the appropriate amount of recognition. And that is that at the state level and of the national level National Senior Games will not be possible without the participation of the sponsors and of the massive number of volunteers to make those events that success has that they are every time I'm at the senior games, state or national. And I see someone at a table or a desk or with a clipboard on over at the volunteer and if they say, yes, I thank them and shake their hand to make sure they're properly appreciated by at least 10.

39:23 Their nose that they gave their own time to be there and to help make the event a success.

39:30 You're exactly right. The athletes volunteer, and, you know, we should give them some sort of Standing Ovation at a future event for the volunteer time. And so, the national Senior Games will be in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and 2022. That's right, and you you've given you didn't give away all your training secret. So you gave away just enough to encourage people to get ready. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.