54-year-old wins 4 gold medals, qualifies for nationals

By Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi
Navajo Times

FRUITLAND, N.M., Aug. 28, 2014

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(Courtesy photo)

Navajo runner Elvis Bitsilly of Albuquerque won four gold medals in June at the New Mexico Senior Olympics held in Roswell, N.M. The former Tohatchi, N.M. native is scheduled to compete at next year’s 2015 National Senior Games in Minnesota next summer.

Through just about every stage of Elvis Bitsilly’s life, running has been a vital part.

He ran throughout high school. He dabbled in college. And now in his early 50s, running has returned but in a much bigger way.

This past June, Bitsilly won four gold medals at the New Mexico Senior Olympics held in Roswell, N.M. The wins qualified him for four events in the 2015 National Senior Games that will be held July 3-16 in Minnesota next summer.

Bitsilly said he hadn’t imagined making such accomplishments at this point in his life.

“I’ve been blessed to be healthy and fit,” he said. “I’m really proud and glad. I’m just happy that I’m able to compete at this level in road races and track events."

Bitsilly took home the gold medals in Roswell in the 10K, 5K, 1,500-meters and the 800 meters.

He said it wasn’t an easy task but he proved to himself that it could be done.

“It’s hard at this level to participate at the competitive level that I’ve been at,” he said. “It took a lot of discipline, it took a lot of patience, training and practice – a lot of motivation to compete."

Bitsilly, who is originally from Tohatchi, N.M., ran for Tohatchi High School before graduating in 1978. He said he ran a little in college but after awhile he hung up his running shoes.

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