Huntsman Senior Games honor long-time competitors

Honorees at the Endurance Awards Ceremony parade around the Dixie Center on Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A total of 84 participants in the Huntsman World Senior Games from across the world were recognized Sunday at the first Endurance Awards Ceremony at the Dixie Center.

Kyle Case (left), CEO of the Senior Games, and John Morgan (right), founder of the Senior Games, offer their congratulations to David Altop (center), of Salt Lake City, for 15 years of participation in the Senior Games at the Dixie Center on Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
Kyle Case (left), CEO of the Senior Games, and John Morgan (right), founder of the Senior Games, offer their congratulations to David Altop (center), of Salt Lake City, for 15 years of participation in the Senior Games at the Dixie Center, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

The Endurance Awards are given out to competitors who have participated in the Senior Games for 15, 20, 25 and 28 years. Before the event began, a bagpipe player led the award recipients on a short parade around the Dixie Center so those in attendance could show their respect and offer congratulations.

Once the ceremony began, the honorees had their names read aloud one-by-one, along with their events of completion, and then walked to the stage. Once there, they were awarded and posed for a picture with Kyle Case, CEO of the Senior Games, and John Morgan, the founder of the original 1987 Senior Games.

“The Endurance Awards is a tradition that we started on our 15th anniversary … and the list of people just continues to grow,” Case said. “Right now we have 11 athletes who have been here for every single one of the games for the past 28 years and that’s pretty amazing.”

Over 250 people attended the first Endurance Awards Ceremony for the Senior Games at the Dixie Center on Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
Over 250 people attended the first Endurance Awards Ceremony for the Senior Games at the Dixie Center , St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

One of those athletes, 89-year-old Sid Smith from Salt Lake City, said he has competed at the Senior Games every year since 1987, and feels honored to have been recognized for his participation.

“Looking back, it’s just been really enjoyable,” Smith said, “I hope to keep coming back and doing it again and again.”

Smith said the Senior Games events he participates in are road racing, track and field and chasing girls to give them hugs. This year, he will be competing in the 5K, 10K, 800m and 1,500m races.

Putting foot-to-pavement over the years has helped Smith lose 78 pounds and overcome his problems with alcohol, he said. Running has been a gift in his life because it has helped him take control of his situation and keep pushing onward.

Making sure to have fun and stay constantly motivated are the two rules Smith said he has followed to ensure he keeps progressing in running and in life. It also helps him to make friends along the way.

The  Endurance Awards given to the 28-year participants in the Senior Games at the Dixie Center on Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
The Endurance Awards given to the 28-year participants in the Senior Games at the Dixie Center, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2014 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

“Motivation is the key to productivity,” Smith said. “You have got to have a goal and a place you’re always reaching for. If I didn’t have that I think I’d be lost.”

Smith said he is now hooked on competing at the Senior Games and will continue to return to the competition for as many years as he can.

Recognizing competitors like Smith is important because maintaining that kind of dedication can be difficult, Case said. If someone does anything for over 15 years, especially after a certain age, it’s worth acknowledging.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor for us to say ‘thank you’ to them,” Case said.

This was the first Endurance Awards ceremony of the 2014 Senior Games season, Case said. The second will be hosted on Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. at the Dixie Center in St. George and will honor those who are competing in the 2nd week’s stream of events.

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Email: dchavez@stgnews.com

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