Charlie DiMarco may be 72 years old, but he is still going strong as an athlete in his own right.
DiMarco, a West Goshen resident, recently captured a first-place gold medal in bocce in his 70-74 age bracket at the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio.
“I have been playing in the state games for six years at different places,” said DiMarco.
The Games for Pennsylvania athletes 50 years old and above first took place at Shippensburg University and have also made stops at York and Harrisburg.
The National Senior Games took place from July 19-Aug. 1.
DiMarco and his partner, Joe Swartz of Pennsburg, drove to Cleveland to participate. There were 10,000 seniors competing in 23 different events. DiMarco and Swartz played in badminton doubles and then each played in bocce singles.
The duo did not fare well in badminton because there were many men from Korea, Japan, Hawaii and Asia as well as come very good players from the United States.
DiMarco earned his gold while Swartz claimed a second-place silver medal in his 75-79 age bracket.
The men faced heavy rain in the drive around Allentown on Route 80.
“We were busy all week mostly waiting to play, but we did get to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” said DiMarco. “It was not what I expected. I thought there would be more things there, but that is OK.”
DiMarco, who also serves as a Chester County constable, said bocce is a popular sport in certain portions of the country with Pennsylvania among the larger ones.
Bocce is played with a small ball with four colors on two sides of a court that is 60-80 feet long and 12 inches wide. The object is to get the bigger ball close to the small ball.
Floor surfaces vary. The ones in Ohio featured rubber, which created faster play. Athletes strive to improve and develop a touch.
A game consists of 12 points and a series is played with best two of three to determine the winner. The ball that is thrown is very hard with some made of oak and others or hard rubber. Official ones weigh one pound.
Some 25-30 athletes began the competition all over the U.S. in a round-robin pool. Players advance through a one-game elimination process. Tabulations are kept with the number of points scored.
DiMarco and Swartz were the only two men athletes representing Pennsylvania out of the entire contingent.
The Games were played at the Cleveland Convention Center, which is also used by the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns.
“The city and people were very nice,” said DiMarco. “It is a huge building. There are 12 volleyball courts and 12 badminton courts.”
DiMarco formerly played fast-pitch softball in the Phoenixville area, but he has always lived in the West Chester area.
“I stay pretty active with activities,” he said. “I work out three days a week and try to keep younger.”