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Trip to Senior Games a Shuffle in the Park for Newport’s Flint

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Pittsford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Pittsford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Newport — Don’t talk to Larry Flint about getting old.

The Social Security checks come every month, but the 67-year-old Flint is not home very often when the mail arrives. He’s usually out doing something.

He just recently returned from the National Senior Games in Cleveland where he competed in race walking events and, along with his wife, Marie, 67, took part in the shuffleboard competition. He’s a retired postal worker who, at other times, has been the recreation director in Newport, Durham and Sunapee. He continues to officiate NHIAA softball and volleyball events, is on the Governor’s Council on Physical Health and Activities, the State Council on Aging, the Newport Senior Center board of directors and on the Newport Recreation department advisory committee. All this after having a liver transplant in 1991.

Flint became interested in race walking when he turned 50. At the time, he was the coordinator for the New Hampshire Senior Games and felt like he should enter some event. His wife also wanted to do something, especially with her husband, so they later took up shuffleboard.

“When she first saw me playing shuffleboard, she told me it was like watching paint drying on grass,” he said.

Flint was told that he would have 7-9 years to live once the liver transplant was done. Since then, however, anti-rejection medicines were developed and, like everyone else, his life expectancy is unknown. “I feel great,” he said. “Take a couple of pills and have pizza at least once a week. It’s health food.”

After going through the qualifying at the state level, the Flints moved on to Cleveland for the nationals. Flint said the hardest part about shuffleboard is that there is no place to practice.

“They roll out the courts at the JFK Coliseum for the New Hampshire Games, but there is little other occasions to practice,” said Flint who added practice is not necessarily a key ingredient to success. “Shuffleboard is a mind game and a little skill,” he said. “You have to out-think your opponent.”

The Flints finished eighth out of 16 teams. “People from Arizona and Florida play a couple of times a week,” said Flint, who is now in the process of buying a shuffleboard court (40 feet of thin vinyl) that he can use on a gym floor. “In Cleveland, we played seven matches, five in one day.”

The competition in Cleveland was in the grand ballroom of the Cleveland Convention Center. “It’s a great event,’ he said. “You get to meet people. We have friends from Iowa and other states that we communicate with all the time.”

Flint, at 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, has been doing the shuffleboard thing for a long time, winning the gold medal in the 1997 games in Disney World. The race walking is a little bit newer.

Flint competed in two race walking events, the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. In the 1,500, held at Baldwin-Wallace University, Flint finished 13th out of 20 competitors with a time of 11 minutes, 31.76 seconds.

The 5K was held on the Lake Erie side of the Cleveland Coliseum, where Flint finished 15th out of 21 runners. Still, that was much better than he did two years ago in Houston, where he was felled by heat stroke. “I couldn’t finish,” he said.

Flint knows he is never going to win the event as long Utah’s Norm Frable is competing. “He’s only a year older than me, but what I worry about each year is getting lapped,” Flint remarked. “I’ve been racing him since 1995, and he’s only slowed down a little. Everybody that enters tries to finish second.”

For Flint, putting in the effort never gets old.