Cape Coral’s Robert Welter wins Florida Senior Games Pickleball Gold Medal with dramatic comeback

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Cape Coral’s Robert Welter wins Florida Senior Games Pickleball Gold Medal with dramatic comeback


CLEARWATER – Down 7-0 in the tiebreaking game of the Men’s Singles Pickleball Gold Medal match in the 60-64 age group, Cape Coral’s Robert Welter called a time out.  He leaned against the wall at the Long Center in Clearwater as if he was winded or injured.


Upon returning to play, he scored the next 12 points and outscored his opponent, Michael Thaler, of Briny Breezes 15-1 to win the third game 15-8 after splitting the first two games.


“I had to change the momentum,” said Welter. “He was dominating.  I was just hoping something would open up.”


It was Welter’s third consecutive gold medal in the 60-64 age group and the third consecutive year he has beaten Thaler in the age group finals.


It looked to be Thaler’s year to win the gold medal as he advanced out the elimination bracket and defeated Welter 11-7, 11-8 forcing an if necessary game and jumping out to the early lead.


On the court next to Welter and Thaler, as the rest of the Long Center had cleared out, was the championship match in the 65-69 age group where David Warner, of Fort Myers won his fifth consecutive gold medal.  He defeated Nolan Fagerburg, of Sarasota, in three games winning the final 15-8. Warner and Fagerburg met in the championship match of the 2013 Florida Senior Games with Warner winning the gold.


Playing in the most crowded field of the men’s singles, with 11 players, Fagerburg dropped his first match of the day against bronze medalist Gabriel Wong and won four elimination matches to reach the final.


Pickleball continues Saturday with mixed doubles competition beginning at 8:00 a.m.


Walter Chalfant, of Mulberry, won his 11th Horseshoes gold medal dating back to 1996 at Ed C. Wright Park. The 90-year old Chalfant his 28 ringers of the 60 horseshoes he threw for a 46.6 ringer percentage.  It was the fifth age group in which Chalfant has won a gold medal.


Winning all five of his pool play matches, Richard Stull of Port Orange, won his third consecutive gold medal in the 65-69 age group.  He hit 53 ringers of the 150 horseshoes thrown for a 35.3 ringer percentage.


The overall high ringer percentage, of 56.6 percent was recorded by Claudette Braswell, of Lake Wales, hitting 34 ringers in 60 throws to win a gold medal in the 75-79 age group.


At the first day of Billiards competition, Howard Thilenius, of Okeechobee, won his third nine-ball gold medal in four years in the 75-79 age group.


Saturday is the busiest day of the nine-day event with 10 sports in action beginning at 8:00 a.m. at locations in Clearwater and Pinellas County.  Billiards continues at Strokers in Clearwater through Sundauy.


Schedule of Florida Senior Games events for Saturday, December 12

Pickleball (Mixed Doubles), The Long Center, Matches begin at 8:00 a.m.

Track & Field (Field Events) – Clearwater High School, First event begins at 8:00 a.m. with Long Jump and Shot Put.  Final event begins at approximately 1:00 p.m.

5K Road Race, Race Walk  & Power Walk – John Chestnut Sr. Park, Race start time is 8:30 a.m.

Billiards (Eight Ball Singles) – Strokers, First break at 9:00 a.m.

Basketball Shooting – North Greenwood Recreation Center, First shot taken at 9:00

Cycling (Road Races) – City of Oldsmar, 501 Brooker Creek Blvd., Starting gun at 9:30 a.m.

Powerlifting – Innisbrook Resort, Lifting begins at 10:00 a.m.

Croquet – Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, First shot at 10:00 a.m.

Bag Toss – The Long Center, First bag thrown at 11:00 a.m.

Basketball 3-on-3 – North Greenwood Recreation Center, First tip off at 1:00 p.m.


Results from the 2015 Florida Senior Games will be updated daily and can be found at  Click the “Results” link at the bottom of the page and choose from the events and sports.  Individual athletes can be searched by name and by city and county.  A daily wrapup of featuring athlete accomplishments will be sent out daily.


The 2015 Florida Senior Games are a program of the Florida Sports Foundation, which serves as the state’s lead organization in promoting and developing Florida’s Sports Industry.   The 2015 Games are being held in conjunction with the St. Pete/Clearwater Sports Commission and the City of Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department.

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