60-year-old Arizonan overcomes heart attack, multiple surgeries to win honors at Senior Games

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 28, 2017

Fifty years old is always an important birthday to celebrate. But for Maricopa's Chris Wallace, he was extra excited to turn 50 as it meant he was eligible for the Senior Games.

"I was excited to be able to compete,” Wallace said. “I had been planning on it for a couple years, so when I hit 50 I thought, 'This is great. I'm going to be able to compete and see what happens.'"  

But his first year of eligibility didn't exactly go as planned. At 50, Wallace underwent knee surgery and a hernia operation, and he suffered a heart attack.  

Five months later, he was back on the track.  

"I know the heart attack -- it scares a lot of people. Once they have it, they're scared to do anything and I think that's the worst thing you can do," Wallace said. 

So, Wallace continued to train for the senior games. His determination earned him the national title of a "Humana Game Changer." And if suffering a heart attack wasn't a big enough obstacle, Wallace was also re-learning a sport he hadn't competed in since high school. 

"Pretty awkward because I hadn't done it for 32 years. Your mind thinks you're 18 and your body says, 'Don't think so,'" he said. 

Nine years later, Wallace earned his greatest achievement to date. At age 60, he was named a triple jump All-American at this year's Arizona Senior Games.

There's no end in sight. Wallace says he may have decades of competition still ahead.

"Pretty inspirational to attend some of these meets," he said. "You've got guys that are 70, 75, 80, 85. I've been at meets where there are guys in their 90s jumping, which is incredible."

Wallace believes this should serve as motivation for all of us, regardless of age, to start living healthier lives. 

"You don't have to be competitive. Just get out and start moving and become active," he said. "Walk more, run more, swim more, play tennis, pickle ball, anything. Never, ever too late."