At age 85, Helene Keen of Horseshoe Bend has been described as a mover, a shaker and a motivator. She was honored Sept. 12 at the XXI Annual Senior Olympics banquet in Hot Springs when she received the Jan and Art Matre Memorial Award for outstanding field athlete in 2002.
She said, "I was surprised. I didn't expect anything like this at my age."
Keen has won over 100 gold medals in Arkansas. She attributes her success to physical fitness; age is just a number, she said.
The Senior Olympics is a competition for those over the age of 50. Competitors must follow the same guidelines as the U.S. Olympics. Before a competitor can compete in the state competition an athlete must have won a gold medal in Arkansas, she said.
It was a sweet victory when Keen competed in the U.S. Senior Olympic Competition in Orlando and bought home four silver medals in 1999 in the swimming competition, since over 8,000 competed.
In May of 1992 Keen competed in the Senior Olympics in Poplar Bluff, Mo. She competed in swimming and track events and won three gold medals in the water and two golds on the track.
She also competed at the National Olympics in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1991 and brought home a fifth-place ribbon in the 50-yard free-style event and won a bronze medal in the three-on-three basketball event.
Keen continues to stay busy by teaching an aquatic class with a group of women at the Hillhigh Hotel and Spa two days a week. She said water keeps a person young.
She said she enjoys teaching the class because water exercise is one of the best ways to keep healthy. Keen said she is a strict disciplinary; she learned discipline in World War II as a physical therapist in the Army.
Keen said it is a challenge for seniors to realize they can do more; she likes to help motivate people.