ST. GEORGE – “There’s gold in them thar hills!” A phrase with roots in the California Gold Rush has come to symbolize the driven 49er prepared to pay whatever physical or emotional price is required to strike gold. This kind of driven and dedicated gold-seeker exists today, and over 10,000 of them are coming to the colorful hills of Southern Utah Oct. 7-19, 2013. The gold they’re seeking, however, is round, hangs from a ribbon, and is only awarded the winners of 26 sports at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George.
Since 1987, the Huntsman World Senior Games has steadily grown to become the largest annual multi-sport event in the world for people 50 and over. In annual numbers, the Huntsman World Senior Games welcomes the most athletes, fans, sponsors and even spectators. And for many people around the planet, it’s no surprise that the Huntsman World Senior Games is gaining a reputation for the best-run event of its kind on Earth.
“In the last 12 months, I have participated in the top three senior games in the world, held in Ohio, Italy and St. George, and without hesitation the St. George Games are the best organized of them all. Plus, their opening ceremonies, sport socials, concerts and dances are by far the most impressive and fun,” BJ Gicquel said, a resident of Salinas, Calif., and nationally recognized cyclist in her 70s. “I recently won three Gold Medals in Torino, Italy, and I’m training hard to take the Gold at the Huntsman World Senior Games this October.”
St. George residents and Games athletes Norm and Kathy Frable also travel to various senior sporting events around the world.
“We love to travel, compete, and make new friends in senior sports,” Norm Frable said, “but there’s nothing out there quite like the Huntsman World Senior Games. The Games is an amazing event that the city, and even the country, should be proud of.”
Not only do the Frables compete, they also volunteer as the sports directors for racewalking.
“Our favorite sports are racewalking and powerwalking, both of which are growing in popularity, and that makes us happy,” Kathy Frable said. “Whatever your sport, from track to triathlon, or basketball to badminton, there really is something for everyone at the Games.”
Noting that the Huntsman World Senior Games offers 5-year age brackets, Kathy Frable said that people can compete against athletes their own age and both recreational and competitive skill levels.
“Because you’re competing at your skill level and in your age group, the chances of taking home a medal are much higher,” she said.
“It’s hard to name one reason why the Games has done so well over the past 27 years,” Huntsman Senior Games CEO Kyle Case said. “Our location is beautiful, our community is friendly and supportive, our donors and sponsors see the financial benefit the Games bring and support us generously, our volunteers are dedicated and our full-time staff works hard all year long to make sure things go off smoothly. We’re blessed to have so many things going for us; and we plan to continue using these assets to remain the best senior games in the world.”
The Games brought a conservative estimate of $15.4 Million into the region’s economy last October, Case said. So while thousands will come to take away gold, they are gladly leaving millions of dollars for the opportunity to try, he said. Plus, they are inspiring generations young and old to get active, to live healthier and to live longer. And that message alone is worth more than gold.