ST. GEORGE — The Huntsman World Senior Games begin Monday, Oct. 3, and this year the games are celebrating 30 years of competition for athletes age 50 or older.
The Senior Games have come a long way since that first year in 1987 when St. George welcomed a few hundred athletes competing in a handful of sports. From those humble beginnings, the Games have grown into the world’s largest annual multi-sport event for men and women age 50 and better. The Games take place each October and are open to athletes of all skill levels.
The 2016 games will welcome around 11,000 athletes to St. George, about the same number of athletes that competed in the Rio Olympics. All 50 of the United States of America will be represented and athletes from more than 34 different countries (a new record for the Games) will take part. Since 1987, the Games have hosted 77 different countries at the event.
On the 30th anniversary, it’s appropriate that the Senior Games offers 30 different sports where athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. From archery to volleyball, individual events to team sports, athletes take the field and prove that age is nothing more than a number.
While registration is closed to new participants, there are many volunteer opportunities available for those wishing to be involved.
The Games is an important economic driver for the St. George area. When these 11,000 athletes, along with their families and supporters, flow into the city they will pour an estimated $18.5 million into the local economy.
On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Games will officially welcome the athletes at the Grand Opening Ceremonies held at the newly-named Legend Solar Stadium on the Dixie State University Campus. Following the tradition of the Olympics, the ceremonies will feature a parade of athletes, a cauldron lighting, singing and dancing along with a fireworks show. The featured speaker at the ceremonies is Debbie Meyer, three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming.
“The Opening Ceremonies is a chance for the athletes and the community to come together under the umbrella of the founding principle of the Games to foster world-wide peace, health and friendship,” Senior Games CEO Kyle M Case, said. “It’s an inspiring and uplifting event.”
Also featured this year is the Global-Cup World Senior Volleyball Championships. This invitation-only tournament will feature the very best men’s volleyball players in the world hailing from Canada, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. The teams are comprised of former World and National Champions. The Global Cup takes place from Monday, Oct. 10, through Thursday, Oct. 13.