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Chad Hunter
Cherokee Phoenix

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma — A long-distance competitive cyclist from Tahlequah earned a spot on the national stage in 2022 by placing in this year’s Oklahoma Senior Games held in October.

Cherokee Nation citizen Simeon Gipson, 75, took part in his eighth consecutive state Senior Games in the 22K road race with a time of 47 minutes, 28 seconds, which was 1:15 behind first place, according to the race results. He competed in the 75-79 bracket at Lake Stanley Draper in Oklahoma City.

“We race around that lake every year,” said Gipson, who qualified to compete in both the 22K and 44K events at the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in May. “I’m looking forward to going to Fort Lauderdale.”

Gipson has qualified for many national games, but has so far attended only two. He can often be seen cycling throughout Cherokee County. While seasonal weather sometimes dampens his riding time, not much changed for Gipson’s training routine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It did not affect me at all,” he said. “I rode as much as I wanted to when I wanted to, out there in the fresh air by myself.”

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Gipson, who turns 76 next month, has no plans to quit cycling anytime soon. He added that he was grateful to the Cherokee Nation for providing financial support for the state competition in October.

“There’s always registration, which runs over $100, and there’s my travel expenses, motel and hotel rooms,” he said.

Earlier this year, Gipson earned a place among others over the age of 60 in Men’s Health magazine. He was one of seven athletes from across the country featured in the popular magazine’s April edition in a piece titled “Fit At Any Age.” Gipson, who is also a U.S. Navy veteran, said it was “the high point of my life.”

Gipson was born in the Delaware County community of Bull Hollow. His mother was Cherokee, while his father, a heavy-equipment operator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was Choctaw. As a child, he suffered from polio, which impaired his ability to walk. Later, he was overweight and suffered from diabetes, but regained his health through cycling.

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This story was originally published in Cherokee Phoenix and republished with permission.