- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A retired rancher and a retired veterinarian from South Dakota who did particularly well at this year’s National Senior Games are partially attributing their successes to their active lifestyles in the ag business.

At 101 years old, Highmore resident John Zilverberg was the oldest competitor and carried South Dakota’s flag during the opening ceremonies at his year’s event in July in the Twin Cities, the Tri-State Neighbor (https://bit.ly/1WQFOx7 ) reported. He placed first in the hammer throw and bowling events, and placed second in discus, javelin and shot put.

Zilverberg, a retired rancher who’s now 102, credits his ranching background for his ability to stay healthy, active and independent. He still drives his pickup truck, lives in his own house and maintains a garden and a large yard.

“My secret for staying healthy is really not a secret,” Zilverberg said. “I grew up on a ranch and did a lot of work there and ate good, healthy food.”

His family moved in 1928 from southeastern South Dakota to a ranch north of Holabird. He took over the family ranch when his father fell ill.



“Ranch life helped keep me in shape,” Zilverberg said. “There’s always a lot of work to do. You get plenty of exercise.”

Zilverberg started participating in the South Dakota Senior Games in 1985, a year after it started begin held, and has competed every year since.

Don Phillips, of Sioux Falls, earned six gold medals in 50-, 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter races and the 400-meter relays at the 2015 National Senior Games. The retired veterinarian had won six silver medals and three bronze medals at previous National Senior Games, but it was his first time earning gold.

Phillips, 85, has been competing in the senior games for 28 years and is most interested in the running events, especially the middle distance races.

Phillips takes no prescription medication. He said his doctor tells him, “If I had more patients like you, I’d probably be out of business.”

The next senior games will be held in 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama.

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