January 25, 2012 - When the torch is lit for Michigan Senior Winter Olympics, Monday, Clarkstonites Tom Decker, Debbie Elert and Margaret Whitcomb will be ready.
Margaret Whitcomb, right, with partner Tim Miles. Photo provided (click for larger version)
Decker is competing for his second winter in pickleball after winning a silver medal in the men's double tournament with partner, Dick Manasseri.
This year he is competing in three events, the singles, men's doubles with Shooter Woods and mixed doubles with Bonnie Otis.
"I hope to finish better than silver in each one," Decker admitted.
He added he and his partners have to practice to anticipate what each is going to do and where they are going to be so they can make adjustments. Both his partners are left handed so he is ready.
Both have also participated in the Michigan Senior Olympics and have done well.
"They have to carry me," he joked.
Decker began playing pickleball three years ago when he and his wife saw an advertisement for pickleball. He was intrigued since he had played racket sports competitively his whole life.
"We did fairly well and started playing three days a week minimum," he added.
Elert and Whitcomb are competing in the dancing competition.
"My husband and I have been ballroom dancing for several years," said Whitcomb. "We went to the event just as an event not to participate. Last year I was dancing with one of my old dance instructors and somebody came up to us and said 'you guys should enter.' I thought no, I don't like competition and I didn't think much about it."
But when friends opened a new dance studio in Rochester and said she had to do it, she said yes.
Between traveling for work on various trips, she has to fit in time to practice.
"They give you the music, which is nice," she said. "I have danced with Tim Miles, my partner, for many years so we are comfortable with each other. If it doesn't work out then that's okay. I am doing it for fun – not to win anything."
Her and her husband, Rob, have been dancing for about seven years off and on for fun.
Elert has danced all her life, beginning with ballet when she was a child and then for fun here and there throughout her life.
She had watched the dance competitions before. She was dancing up at The Jewel of Grand Blanc, a golf course when Robert Budzynski said he wanted her to dance with him.
"We have been practicing," she said. "It will be fun. I have loved to dance since I was a kid. This is natural. Plus, Bob has an energy and just won't quit.
Elert and Budzynski are competing in nine events. They are in American Smooth in Intermediate Waltz and Intermediate Foxtrot; Hustle Swing & Salsa in Intermediate Hustle, Intermediate West Coast Swing, Intermediate Night Club, Intermediate Salsa and Intermediate East Coast Swing; American Rhythm in Intermediate Cha Cha and Intermediate Rumba.
Whitcomb and Miles are competing in five events. They are in American Smooth in Advanced Tango and Advanced Foxtrot and American Rhythm in Advanced Rumba, Advanced Cha Cha and Advanced Samba.
Michigan Senior Olympics is a non-profit organization promoting healthy lifestyles by organizing state games, sports competitions, and health, fitness, nutrition and wellness programs for active people age 50 and over.
Call 248-608-0250 or visit www.michiganseniorolympics.org.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.