The N.M. Senior Olympics announces Andrea Weiss of Edgewood as the 2017 Female Golden Athlete and James ‘Mac’ McCollum of Las Cruces as the 2017 Golden Male Athlete.

Golden athletes will be honored at the 39th opening ceremony of the NM Senior Olympics held at 7 p.m. on July 19 at Balloon Fiesta Park. Weiss and McCollum with be presented with personalized satin letter jackets.

Golden Athletes are nominated by their peers or local coordinator, and selected by a committee of the NM Senior Olympics.

Candidates demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in their personal and professional lives, contribute to the community and work to enhance the quality of life for seniors.

Organizers are expecting 1,141 senior athletes from around New Mexico, including 37 athletes from out of state as far away as Hawaii and Washington State. Andrea Weiss has been playing badminton for 50 of her 69 years. She discovered the indoor racquet sport in 1969 at Los Angeles City College, when she was recruited off the softball field by a WWII badminton gold medalist who was scouting players.

She was hooked from the start. “A devoted softball player since age 5, once the racquet was in hand, I was mesmerized by the sounds of the game. The combination of speed, power, a feathered shuttle and balletic movement on the court won my heart,” she said.

She excelled in badminton, but continued to play softball and basketball until graduation. Then, she focused her energy on careers as a high school teacher, coach and athletic director, and later as a physician assistant for 25 years. In the 1990s, she started playing again seriously.

Five years ago, she began training under Canadian coach, Anna Rice, who is a two-time Olympian and eight-time Canadian National Champion. In 2007, Andrea won first of many New Mexico Senior Olympics State Championships in women singles, mixed doubles and womens doubles. She has also competed and won nationally and internationally, including in Canada and Italy.