CROWNPOINT — Glenn Pablo didn't participate in track and field competitions until 2008. He was 64 years old.
Pablo, 69, will represent New Mexico at the 2013 National Senior Games, which runs July 19 through Aug. 1 in Cleveland. It is the third time the Lake Valley native and Crownpoint resident has qualified for the games.
"I just started with the San Juan County Senior Olympics in 2008. Before that, I never ran or anything," Pablo said. "As a young person, I never competed or anything."
Pablo competes in track and field events and qualified for the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter dashes, as well as the long jump in this year's nationals. He qualified for each event during the state competition in Roswell in June.
Pablo was encouraged to participate in the local Senior Olympics through his senior center.
"A supervisor of the senior center invited me to go to one of those Native American Games for competition in all kind of events. I told them I would do the 100-meter and stuff. I went along and competed against some runners, and some people were impressed and told me to enter the San Juan County Senior Olympics. From there on, I just kept going to local competitions and then to state and eventually qualified for nationals."
Pablo has competed in San Francisco and Houston and is looking forward to the trip to Cleveland.
He hasn't placed in any individual events yet, but his 4x100-meter relay team took third last year in Houston at the national games.
"I teamed up with some men from Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, and we did pretty good. We are all happy about getting third," he said.
Pablo shares the experience with his family, including his daughter Rae DeGroat.
"We are all excited for him. He has been training at home every day," DeGroat said. "He is always pretty pumped, and myself and my family members are proud of him, as well as the community members."
Though Pablo has only been competing for a short time, DeGroat said he has always been in good shape.
"He is always reminding us of what is best to eat and what would be the better choices food-wise. He always encouraged us to work out and tells my sister and I how to keep healthy," she said. "He stresses how important it is."
Pablo said he enjoys watching people from all over the country perform during the weeklong National Senior Games, whether it is shuffle board or track and field.
"Going there and meeting the people is the best part. The New Mexico team all gets together and has a lot of fun in the different events," Pablo said. "I like to see and root for all the natives running."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.