International field of octogenarians dominate Delray Beach Senior Games


By Dave DiPino Contributing Writer Hearing the loud blank fired by a starter pistol Essie Faria, 80, sprints forward from lane two on the track and toward the finish line during the Women’s 50M Dash. Simultaneously from a paved lane parallel to the track Nuri Sabuncu, 82, sprints down the path and launches from the takeoff board high into the air in perfect long jump form before landing in the sand pit feet first with his momentum carrying him forward. Faria and Sabuncu were joined by 43 local athletes age 50 or older from 25 South Florida communities competing in the 26th Annual Delray Beach Senior Games Track & Field competition at Atlantic Community High School, 2455 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. “This is my ninth consecutive senior games. At one stage, around age 75, I was winning everything. Before competing in the senior games I hadn’t done track and field in 50 years,” said Faria. Faria drove to Delray Beach from Miami to compete in the Delray Beach Senior Games and qualify for the Florida Senior Games State Championships, which will be held in Clearwater Dec. 5-13. “The drive up here from Miami was worse than running in the events. I’m one of those crazy people who believe I can do anything. My attitude is that when you get older you can still do it!” Faria is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. Her career was as a dancer, she said, and holds numerous state records in the senior games and a national table tennis championship. Sabuncu is one of five athletes originally from Turkey and now living in South Florida competing in the Delray Beach Senior Games Track & Field competition. The rest of the Turkey Five competing at the Delray Beach Senior Games Track & Field competition include: Svat Akgun, 86, of Pompano Beach competed in the 85-89 men’s division of the 100 Meter Dash, 200 Meter Dash and Long Jump. Fellow countryman Yilmaz Eyrasa, 86, of Pompano Beach, ran the 50 Meter Dash, 100 Meter Dash, 200 Meter Dash, Triple Jump and Long Jump. Y.M. Naci, 92, of Pompano Beach ran the 50 Meter Dash, 100 Meter Dash, and 200 Meter Dash and Hollywood resident Celal Colak, 83, sprinted in the 100 Meter Dash, and 200 Meter Dash. Colak and Akgun are retired physicians who specialized in internal medicine, Naci is a retired otolaryngologist (ENT) physician, Eryasa is an anesthesiologist and Sabuncu owns a construction company. “We are six athletes originally from Turkey residing in South Florida,” said Sabuncu. Delray Beach residents Stanley Becker won the 1500 Meter Race Walk is 13:53:00 mark and Ira Drescher competed in several events including winning the men’s (80-84) 50 Meter Dash, 100 Meter Dash and 200 Meter Dash. “The Senior Games provide a chance for members of Florida’s fastest growing age group to show that even if their reflexes may have slowed down a bit, their good-natured competitiveness has not,” said John Webb, president of the Florida Sports Foundation, in a press release sent out to local members of the media. For more information about competing at the local, state and national levels or starting new local Senior Games can be found at or by contacting the Florida Sports Foundation at 1-866-FLGAMES or


Delray Beach Senior Games Track & Field competition age 80-84, 85-89, and 90+ results: Women’s 50 Meter Dash (80-84): Essie Faria 11:40 (seconds), Men’s 50 Meter Dash (80-84): Ira Drescher 9:41, Nuri Sabuncu 10:31, Celal Colak 11:06, Men’s 50 Meter Dash (85-89): Yilmaz Eryasa 8:57, Svat Akgun 9:56, Martin Quinn 12:68, 50 Meter Dash (90+): Y.M. Naci 14:25, 100 Meter Dash (80-84): Ira Drescher 15:35, Nuri Sabuncu 21:82, Celal Colak 33:83, 100 Meter Dash (85-89): Svat Akgun 15:50, Yilmaz Eryasa 15:70, Martin Quinn 28:32, 100 Meter Dash (90+): Y.M. Naci 25:34, 200 Meter Dash (80-84) Ira Drescher 41:47, Nuri Sabuncu 48:21, Celal Colak 1:15:69, 200 Meter Dash (85-89): Svat Akgun 42:72, Yimaz Eryasa 42:72, Martin Quinn 1:02:88, 200 Meter Dash (90+): Y.M. Naci 1:16:71, 400 Meter: (85-89): Martin Quinn 2:23:38, 800 Meter (85-89): Martin Quinn 5:15:84, 1500 Meter (85-89): Martin Quinn 9:45:66, 1500 Meter Race Walk (85-89): Martin Quinn 12:25:00, 1500 Meter Race Walk (90+): Stanley Becker 13:53:00, Women’s Long Jump (80-84): Essie Faria, Men’s Long Jump (80-84): Nuri Sabuncu, Men’s Long Jump (85-89): Svat Akgun, Women’s Triple Jump (80-84): Essie Faria, Men’s Triple Jump (80-84): Nuri Sabuncu, Men’s Triple Jump (85-89): Yilmaz Eryasa, Women’s Discus (80-84): Essie Faria, Men’s Discus (80-84): Joe Hemler, Men’s Shot Put (85-89): Svat Akgun.