Older athletes celebrate their passion for sports during Senior Games

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) -- Bonnie Champion and basketball go way back.

"I played before they integrated the schools, and when they integrated the schools, I didn't play anymore. Then I sort of played semi-pro after high school. In college we played inter-club," said Bonnie Champion of Denver.

When she was young, shooting hoops and hitting home runs were her thing.

Decades later, the Senior Games in Kearney, Nebraska allows her and many others to continue to enjoy their passion for athletics and competition. Fitness is still a main priority for the 77-year-old.

"I just think it's important for balance, mental health and self-esteem. It's important to stay active," said Champion.

Competitors like 68-year-old Rod Engelbart of Lincoln, Neb. agree.

He doesn't let a day go by without breaking a sweat.

"It's a lot of fun. I love to stay active and I work out seven days a week, biking or running or playing golf. Basketball is just part of the routine," Engelbart said.

Young people say watching veteran athletes on the court gives them a fresh outlook.

"It's really inspiring to see these older seniors come out and participate. It just shows you can still set goals at the age of 55 to run a minute and five 400-meter dash," said Nebraska Senior Games Coordinator Jade Brown.

Both Bonnie and Rod say they plan on playing the game they love for at least another 20 years, if not more.

Read the original version of this article at nbcneb.com.