Harriet Bloemker was hopeful she could make some history on Saturday in the Cornhusker State Games in Lincoln, but the veteran track athlete wasn’t certain how she would compete.
“My goal was to break the national records in my age group in the javelin and discus,” the Fremont woman said. “I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I thought I had a chance if everything worked out all right.”
It turned out that Bloemker didn’t have anything to worry about. She set a pair of national records in the women’s 85-89 age group. She won the javelin with a throw of 61 feet, 8 inches and also took first in the discus with a mark of 54-2.
According to USA Track & Field, Bloemker broke the age 85-89 javelin mark of 54-9 set by Barbara Brandt of Arizona in 2015. The USA T&F website also lists Brandt as the record holder in the discus with a mark of 50-6 — though it is believed the top mark in the nation may have been 52-9.
There weren’t any other competitors in Bloemker’s division Saturday, but that didn’t take away from her determination.
“I was just competing with myself, but my motivation was to do the best I could and let the chips fall where they may,” Bloemker said. “I knew what the national records were and that was my motivation.”
Bloemker was also entered in the high jump and the 50-meter dash, but skipped those events due to the heat and humidity.
“The discus and the javelin meant the most to me,” said Bloemker, 85. “One was at 11 a.m. and other was at (noon). Having them back-to-back worked out well. After I got done with the discus, it was getting pretty hot. If I had stayed for the 50, it would’ve been another hour. I think with as hot as it was, common sense just kicked in for me and I limited myself to two (events).”
Bloemker has been competing since 1999. She has also been a medalist at the State Senior Games in Kearney.
“Each additional year that I’m able to compete is a gift from God,” she said.
Bloemker, who also plays golf, lifts weights and works out on a stepper machine at home. She practices her throwing at Christensen Field and also Fremont High School.
She doesn’t plan on retiring from sports in the near future.
“I’m going to keep going as long as I’m healthy and able to,” she said. “Every year it becomes a little more iffy, but right now I don’t have any physical problems that I know of.”
Bloemker was widowed in February of this year. Her husband, Gene, though is never far from her thoughts.
“I missed not having my husband with me,” she said. “But I remembered his words of encouragement and admonition to stay disciplined in training and practicing.”
Bloemker would like to encourage others to participate in the Cornhusker State Games or the Senior Games.
“This isn’t expensive. You don’t have to buy a lot of expensive equipment,” she said. “I just don’t think people realize how easy it is to get interested in something and give it a try. It doesn’t matter if it is track and field, swimming or whatever.”
While setting national records and winning medals are fun, Bloemker said the real benefit is just being active.
“The positive results — with our without medals — are numerous,” she said.