ST. GEORGE — The Huntsman World Senior Games is poised to launch in St. George with the first athletic events beginning Oct. 9 and running through Oct. 21. The annual event welcomes around 11,000 athletes, ages 50 and older, from all over the world who compete in their choice of 30 different sports.
The games were founded in 1987 by John and the late Daisy Morgan, who were hoteliers in St. George at the time.
“We were looking for a fun way to bring people to St. George and to stay in the hotel,” John Morgan said. “To see the growth of this event and to see what it’s become all these years later is really something special.”
John Morgan not only founded the games, but in his mid-90s continues to compete in his favorite sport of tennis each year. He also serves as chairman of the event’s board of directors.
“The Huntsman World Senior Games is roughly the same size as the Olympics. The difference is that we get to host them every single year instead of having to wait four years,” the games’ CEO Kyle M. Case said.
“The reach of the event is pretty fantastic. We have all 50 states represented and 34 different countries attending this year.”
The largest sport at the games is softball with 353 teams registered to compete in 12 different age groups and multiple skill levels. Volleyball has nearly 200 teams and hosts well over 1,000 athletes.
Like the Olympics, the games kick off with opening ceremonies intended to be a celebration of the founding principles of the games of fostering worldwide peace, health and friendship. The theme to this year’s ceremonies is “Celebrate Peace.” The free event takes place Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Dixie State University Legend Solar Stadium.
The ceremonies feature the parade of athletes, singing, dancing, the cauldron lighting, fireworks and this year’s inspirational special guest, James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Lawrence started his athletic career as a wrestler. In his younger years, the idea of endurance races was unknown to him.
At age 23 he moved to Utah and in 2005 he ran his first race, a 4-mile fun run. He was disappointed when mothers with baby strollers passed him on the course and he knew he was capable of more. He took up the sport of triathlon, eventually racing Ironman distances. He went on to set a couple of records for the Guinness Book of World Records in both half- and full-distance Ironman races.
Lawrence wondered if he had truly found his mental and physical limits. He suspected there was more.
He decided to do 50 Ironman races in 50 consecutive days through all 50 states. Lawrence will share the ups, the downs and the life lessons learned along the way. His story resonates with all, young and old, and attendees are encouraged to bring their entire family.
The gates open at 6 p.m. and athletes will want to arrive at least by 6:30 p.m. to participate in the parade of athletes.
A free shuttle service is available to and from select parking lots on the Dixie State University campus and the stadium.
For more information on the Huntsman World Senior Games, including the opening ceremonies, sport schedules and how to volunteer, click here.
- What: Huntsman World Senior Games.
- When: Oct 9-21 at varying times.
- Where: Venues throughout the St. George area.
- Details: A full list of sport schedules and registration information is available at the games’ website.
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