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Athletics: Huntsman Senior Games turn 30

Published September 29, 2016 5:02 pm

Athletics • From modest beginnings in 1987, this year's Games will include over 11,000 athletes from every state and 34 countries.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

St. George • The Huntsman Senior Games have given athletes such as Marvin Woodbury, Cal Dilworth and Betty Helland a good reason to stay active well into their 80s and 90s.

Those are three of 11 people who will be able to say they have competed in all of the Games dating back to 1987, when it began with several hundred athletes in just a few sports.

On Monday, the Huntsman Senior Games will kick off its 30th year with a field that includes more than 11,000 competitors from all 50 states and 34 different nations.



For competitors such as St. George resident Woodbury, the Games have provided a good excuse to stay active. Though he can no longer compete in track, road racing and triathlon, he will be back to compete in horseshoes.

"Over the years, I've met people from Japan, Germany and Canada and guys from all over the Union," said the 90-year-old Woodbury, who has won over 100 medals the past 30 years. "It's always changed, but there has been nothing really dramatic. We started off with just about 300 or 400 people in 1987 and it's been increasing and increasing."

Helland, a 91-year-old Bountiful tennis player who still plays once a week, just counted her Senior Games medals. She has 61 — 20 of them gold. She will be playing mixed doubles this year.

"I like the quality of the people I meet down there," Helland said. "They have it so organized and so many volunteers. You just have to be proud of them."

Dilworth, who turns 85 in November, will be traveling from Michigan to St. George, where he will play basketball.

"I enjoy the game," he said. "It has been good to me. I have gone all over the world playing basketball. They [the Games] are well organized. They are the best of the Games for seniors anywhere."

Organizers bill the Games as the world's largest annual multi-sport event for men and women age 50 and older. They feature competitions in 30 different sports where athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. Registration is closed for athletic competition this year, but there are opportunities to volunteer.

The opening ceremonies, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the Legend Solar Stadium at Dixie State University. They will include a parade of athletes, a cauldron lighting, singing and dancing and a fireworks show. Three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Debbie Meyer will be the featured speaker.

Another aspect of the Games this year is that the Global Cup — the World Senior Volleyball Championships and an invitation-only event ­— will be held October 10 through October 13. It features the best men's volleyball players in the world.

Kyle Case, CEO of the Senior Games, said the Games generate an estimated $18.5 million for the local economy. Finding a room in St. George or even nearby Mesquite, Nevada, will be a challenge.

"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 events provide the opportunity for the athletes to socialize and enjoy themselves."

Case said the Games were founded 30 years ago based on the principals of fostering world-wide peace, health and friendship.

"We love being able to provide an opportunity for health and wellness through competition," he said. "We offer many chances for our athletes to interact socially, truly creating life-long friendships. We see it every year at the Games. And we really believe that as we have this interaction and learn to understand one another that we take one step closer to peace. There's something very satisfying in that."

To give an idea of the scope of the event, the 11,000 competitors are about the same number of athletes that competed in the Rio Olympics.

The Senior Games also have an international feel, as well. Athletes from 77 different countries have competed since the first Games in 1987.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter @tribtomwharton —

30th annual Huntsman Senior Games

When • Monday through Oct. 15.

Where • Hosted by St. George, with 30 sports contested throughout Washington County.

Who • Some 11,000 athletes 50 and over from all 50 states and 34 countries. Utah's Huch Aoki, Haven Barlow, Bruce Crane, Betty Helland, John SanMartini, Sid Smith, Doyle Swalloe, Bill Webb, Marian Wolle and Marvin Woodbury and Michigan's Cal Dilworth have competed in all 30 Games.

Registration: • All events are full, but volunteers are needed. Information: 800-562-1268 or www.seniorgames.

 

 

 

 

 

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