Florida Senior Games Table Tennis Welcomes Well-Traveled Paralympic Athlete on Day 3
CLEARWATER, Fla. — A Paralympic Athlete who has competed in Table Tennis competitions all over the world in destinations such as London, Venezuela, Slovenia and Brazil, only had to drive 40 miles to compete in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, Presented by Humana.
Tara Profitt, of Apollo Beach, competed in the 1984 and 2012 Paralympic Games and played in the 2009 and 2011 Para Pan Am Games. She had a fourth place Women’s Singles finish in the 2011 Para Pan Am Games and won two silver medals in Women’s and Mixed Doubles and a bronze Women’s Singles today in the 50-54 age group.
This is her fourth year of competing in a wheelchair at the Florida Senior Games and she has been a medalist in each of her appearances.
“I turned 50 and decided to give it a try,” Profitt said. “All of the people here are young and there’s a lot of good players.”
Profitt broke her neck when diving into a swimming pool and hit the bottom when she was 13 years old. She has been active and involved in sports all of her life. With two brothers, she was involved in all of the sports they played.
“I was a tomboy,” she said.
She began playing table tennis while in college at Central Connecticut University and competed in the 1984 Paralympic Games. She “retired,” from Table Tennis, after graduating from college like many Senior Games athletes, to begin a professional career in payroll services at a variety of companies over the years and to raise a family.
While Profitt has become a regular at the Florida Senior Games over the last four years, she is currently undecided on whether she will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, with a performance at the 2019 Para Pan Am Games.
Among the other Table Tennis athletes competing Monday, Garth Jordan, of Tampa, Yujun Li, of Clearwater and Joan Ruggeiro, of Jacksonville, scored a hat trick of gold medals winning in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Ruggeiro won her fifth consecutive gold medal, and seventh overall since 2011. Today’s win came in the 65-69 age group.
In the first day of Men’s and Women’s Doubles competition at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a pair of gold medal winners were determined. Earl Harry, of Davenport (at left in photo) and Barry Recht, of Auburndale (at right in photo), defeated Jim Norfolk, of Kissimmee, and Thomas Waye, of Poinciana, 6-1, 6-2, in the Men’s 60-64 age group final.
“The score did not indicate how close the match really was,” said Harry. “There were a lot of long games that went to deuce. We had some good shots after some long volleys.”
Both Norfolk and Waye competed in Men’s Singles and Norfolk won a bronze medal in the 60-64 age group. He also won the 60-64 Men’s Singles silver medal at the 2017 Games.
Dave Peterson and Gary Radtke, both of Tampa, earned the 55-59 Men’s Doubles gold, defeating Ernest Machamer, of Umatilla, and Richard Horsley, of Leesburg, 6-0, 6-2.
Table Tennis continues on Tuesday with the 70-74 and above age groups at The Long Center and Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tennis championship matches begin play at 8:30 a.m. at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.
Golf tees off at the Countryside Country Club with tee times beginning at 8:00 a.m. During the two days on the links, golfers will compete in either 18 or 36-hole events. A total of 179 golfers will compete over the two-day event.
Over 2,600 athletes are competing in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, in Clearwater and Pinellas County through December 9. The 2018 Games are a qualifier for the 2019 National Senior Games, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 14-25.
The 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, are an annual presentation of the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s leading sports promotion and development organization and are held in conjunction with Visit St. Pete Clearwater and the City of Clearwater.