by Michelle Graves
The Huntsman World Senior Games have come a long way since that first year in 1987 when St. George, Utah, USA, 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 ages 50 and better. The Games take place each October, and are open to athletes of all skill levels.
In 2016, the Games welcomed 11,079 athletes to St. George, a new participation record. All 50 of the United States of America were represented, and athletes from more than 34 different countries took to the playing field. Since 1987, the Games have hosted 77 different countries at the event, and this year is poised to be just as successful.
With so many people coming into the area, the economic impact is significant. The Games estimates that there are around 16.7 million dollars that flow into the local economy by way of the athletes.
For 2017, the Games offer 30 different sports. From archery to volleyball, individual events to team sports, there is something for everyone.
“One of the unique things about the Games,” says Kyle M. Case, CEO, “is that our divisions for the sports are based on age, and wherever possible, skill level as well. This makes the event more inclusive and allows for a legitimate chance at a medal.”
Part of the success of the Games is attributed to the philosophy founded in the early years of providing much more than just a sporting event.
“The Games is a total experience,” says Case. “Each sport hosts an athlete social where the participants have an opportunity to have a great meal and create new friendships and renew old ones off the field of competition. Other social and entertainment events provide the opportunity for the athletes to socialize and enjoy themselves. And the great thing is the community is invited to take part in much of the fun as well.”
On Tuesday, October 10, the Games will officially welcome the athletes at the Grand Opening Ceremonies. Following the tradition of the Olympics, the Ceremonies feature a Parade of Athletes, a Cauldron Lighting, and singing and dancing, along with fireworks. The show takes place at the Legend Solar Stadium at Dixie State University. It is a high energy show that is free to the public as well as the athletes. In previous years, the Games have also hosted a motivational speaker, usually an Olympian or a professional athlete. Previous years have included Joe Namath and Florence Griffith Joyner. In 2016, Olympic swimmer, Debbie Meyer took the stage as she motivated us with the spoken word. This year’s special guest Keynote will be sure to motivate and inspire as in past years.
In addition to the Opening Ceremonies, the Games will host the free Concert and Celebration on Tuesday, October 17. This upbeat show takes place in the Dixie State University Burns Arena at 7:00 pm, and will feature The Rat Pack Tribute. Come and relive the magic of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. This Award winning tribute to the original big band entertainers will be a show not to miss!
Also featured this year is the Global Cup World Senior Volleyball Championships. This invitation only tournament will feature the very best women’s volleyball players in the world hailing from Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the USA. The teams are comprised of former World and National Champions. The Global Cup takes place from Monday, October 12 through Thursday, October 15. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Pool play takes place in the Dixie Center, and the finals will be held at the Desert Hill High School Main Gym beginning at 5:30 pm.
For additional information on the Games or any of its events, visit the website at www.seniorgames.net or call the Games office at (800) 562-1268.