Bellaire native shines in Senior Track and Field

When Nielda Pitts resided in the Ohio Valley, distance running was her game.

Since re-locating to Chatanooga, Tn., sprinting has become her events of choice.

The 69-year old is performing at a high level and is hoping it results in a trip back to Ohio for the National Senior Olympics in Cleveland in the coming months.

However, a few steps remain, including the regional meet, which will be held in Nashville.

“We started competing in September and we’re hoping to keep going until we’re in the nationals in 2014,” Pitts said during a recent phone interview.

At the district meet, Pitts was the champion of the 50, 100, 200, 400-meters and long jump competitions.

Pitts is actually undefeated in her age group, which is the 70-74.

She competes in that group because of when the national meet falls, she’ll have turned 70 by then.

“There have been times when I’ve competed against younger women, but usually there are between five and six other women in my age group,” Pitts said. “I’ve not been defeated in my age group.”

Pitts spent most of her adult life in Bellaire, but moved back to her hometown in 2004.

“I was born and raised in Tennessee, but I lived in Bellaire for 37 years,” Pitts said.

Pitts didn’t take up running of any kind until she was 39 years old. Her son, Orlando, was operating a track club and needed an assistant.

“He asked me to help him and it really pumped me up to believe that I could do the events, too,” Pitts said.

During her time in Ohio, Pitts was a regular in 5K races, but in 2005, she took up sprints.

Originally, she had thought about running some sprints and continuing as a distance runner. However, at the urging of her son Kenny, who was a former strength and conditioning coach with the Buffalo Bills, he told his mother to pick one.

“He advised me that putting both sprinting and long-distance running together wasn’t a good idea,” Nielda said. “I took his advice and became a sprinter.

“By being a sprinter, I knew how to keep the pace. I did the 1-mile race walk some, too.”

The pace has been fast.

She’s been able to accomplish all of this and does it without much practice.

“I do try to keep my legs going and I don’t indulge in smoking or drinking or anything like that,” Pitts said. “I try to exercise, but I probably still don’t exercise as much as I should. I actually should practice much more.”

Don’t look for Pitts to slow down any time soon, either.

“I really enjoy it,” Pitts said. “I really think I can keep going.”

Nielda has 11 children, nine of whom graduated from Bellaire High School.