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.
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
Track and Field
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