Since coming back from a qualifying round of the Senior Olympics last month, Hoffman Estates Park District board Commissioner Lollie Guiney has been asked numerous times how many medals she has won over the years.
Guiney always responded by saying she didn't know. After all, she has been going to state and national Senior Olympics competitions since the late 1980s.
"I just throw them in a bag," the 82-year-old said with a laugh.
Last week, with the help of a friend, Guiney finally counted those medals -- including the eight she won in July in swimming and track and field -- and discovered the total came to about 150.
"I find it a challenge to try to improve and to see how I can make (the sports) work for me," she said.
Thousands of athletes ages 50 and older participate in Senior Olympics state events every other year to see if they qualify for the biennial Summer National Senior Games.
Guiney usually heads to Springfield for Illinois' qualifying event, but due to other plans she traveled to Ohio's state competition this year, where she competed in the 80+ age group.
A spokesman for the National Senior Games Association said about 12,000 participants come to the Summer Games, but that it is unknown how many Illinois residents will be there, as the state competition is not until September.
Guiney's wins in Ohio included three gold medals and a bronze medal for swimming backstroke and freestyle; a silver and bronze for two dashes in track; a silver for the discus throw; and a bronze for shot put.
"I don't kick really well, but I'm working on it," she said of swimming, a sport she picked up just last spring. "I would like to learn to swim well for fun, not as another challenge for me."
Guiney's love for sports started at a young age. But unlike women today, she didn't have as many opportunities to excel in them.
"It was still frowned on and now I see these young girls doing all the things that I wanted to do and I'm so jealous," she said, adding that her parents said they would support her if she wanted to be a physical education teacher, but that she told them she wanted to be a professional athlete.
Guiney qualified for, and is planning to attend, the 2013 Summer National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, next summer, and hopes to stay active and pick up new sports in years to come.
"I would love to learn to ice skate," she said, adding that she has also played basketball, soccer and volleyball in past, but now only does individual sports due to a shoulder injury. "My bucket's full of what I want to do."