KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — When Fred Winter of Holland tried to sign up for this week’s Meijer State Games of Michigan, he ran into a little road block: The age brackets on the registration form ended at 99, and that number was not high enough.
Winter is 100 years old. He’s a U.S. Navy veteran who was aboard a ship at the Battle of Okinawa during World War II 70 years ago.
After he realized the registration form didn’t include an option for his age, he contacted the organizers at the West Michigan Sports Commission and asked for help. They obliged.
Winter can now compete in the Meijer State Games. On Saturday at East Kentwood High School Stadium, he’ll throw the shot put, the javelin and the discus, and run the 50- and 100-yard dashes.
He said he started competing in the Senior Olympics at the ripe age of 70.
“To keep in shape,” he explained. “My dying wish is, ‘Lord, please let win first place and take me home.’”
He has a slew of medals now, and a lot of stories.
“In 1980s, I got the bronze. 1990s, I got the silver, and 2000s and on, I got the gold,” he said. “My competition was not too much anymore because a lot of these fellas could not keep in shape — or they died.”
The Meijer State Games include 38 events at 43 venues around Grand Rapids.