Senior Games begin with 10,000 athletes battling for gold

Track and field athlete raises his arms in celebration at the 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games, St. George, Utah, October 2011 | Photo courtesy of SG Photos

ST. GEORGE – On the heels of the St. George Marathon, the 26th annual Huntsman World Senior Games will take the town Oct. 8-20 for two weeks of competition, camaraderie and fun.

Athlete competing in the Men’s 100m Butterfly at the 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games, St. George, Utah, October 2011 | Photo courtesy of SG Photos

An event that has put St. George on the national and global radar in recent years, the Games were founded in 1987 by Daisy and John H. Morgan, Jr. with the goal of using a sporting event to promote fitness and healthy living among seniors. Jon M. Huntsman quickly recognized the potential of the event and in 1989, the Huntsman Corporation became the principal sponsor.

Under the direction of a small full-time staff and with the assistance of thousands of volunteers, the Games have expanded into a globally renowned event. They provide St. George with a major economic and tourism boost, generating over $13 million each year.

“The Games were founded in St. George and we anticipate will always be held (here,)” Chief Executive Officer Kyle Case said. “The relationship (we have) with the city is mutually beneficial. We’ve both grown together, helping each other along the way.”

Biff Lowry, a participant in the Men’s Swimming 85-89 age division, has attended 22 Games and witnessed firsthand their transformation from a local event into the grand spectacle they are today.

“When I first competed, the (athlete roster) was a fraction of what it is now and they just had a handful of volunteers,” he said.

A total of 10,000 athletes — some in their 50s, others in their 90s — are registered in 27 sports. All 50 of the United States will be represented, as well as 20 countries. Softball has the most participants, with approximately 3,400 men and women.

Athletes compete in the Men’s 65+ Basketball at the 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games, St. George, Utah, October 2011 | Photo courtesy of SG Photos

Though several sports will be starting on Oct. 8, the Opening Ceremonies will be held at 7 p.m. the following day at Hansen Stadium on the Dixie State College of Utah campus. Featuring an Olympics-inspired parade of athletes, entertainment, fireworks and the traditional lighting of the Huntsman World Senior Games Cauldron. Legendary race car driver Morgan Shepherd, who at age 71 is the oldest NASCAR competitor in history, will deliver an inspiring speech on the importance of choosing a healthy and active lifestyle.

“The Opening Ceremonies (are) a chance for the athletes and the local residents to come together and celebrate,” Case said.

Not to be outdone by the Opening Ceremonies, the second week of the Games kicks off at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 with the Huntsman World Senior Games Concert & Celebration at Burns Arena, also on the DSC campus. The headlining act will be Voice Male, a Utah-based a cappella singing group. Admission to both events is free.

As the battle for gold rages on, visitors can also enjoy the action of the Global Cup, a four-day tournament in which volleyball teams from various countries compete for the title of World Senior Volleyball Champion. Matches will take place Oct. 15-18 at Desert Hills High School.

“Everyone should come out and watch because there’s a sport for everyone’s taste,” said Karen Foss, a participant in the Women’s Bowling 65-69 age division. “The Games are truly meaningful. It’s something you’re proud to be a part of.”

Due to the immensity of the games and the complexity of scheduling, those wishing to watch a certain sport should consult its individual page on the official Huntsman World Senior Games website.

 

2012 Senior Games sports
Archery
Badminton
Basketball
Bowling
Bridge
Cowboy Shooting
Cycling
Golf
Horseshoes
Lawn Bowling
Mountain Biking
Pickleball
Racewalking
Racquetball
Road Races
Sand Volleyball
Shooting
Soccer
Softball
Square Dancing
Swimming
Table Tennis
Tennis
Track and Field
Triathlon
Volleyball

 

For more on Huntsman World Senior Games 2012:

Senior Games: Week 1 photo gallery

Senior Games: Week 2 photo gallery

Senior Games: Santa Clara’s golden boy chases tennis three-peat with faithful partner

Senior Games: Barbadian athletes cast a ray of Caribbean sunshine on St. George

Senior Games: Global Cup men’s volleyball, veritably world

Senior Games: Chinese volunteers keep score and score for life success

Senior Games: Women’s softball teams triumph after tragedy

Photo Gallery: Senior Games opening ceremonies bring pride, grandeur to St. George

Gold to go around, Marathon and Senior Games come to town

 

 

Email: AlexaVM@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

 

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