Senior Games participants come seeking gold

ST. GEORGE – “There’s gold in them thar hills!” A phrase with roots in the California Gold Rush has come to symbolize the driven ’49er prepared to pay whatever physical or emotional price required to strike gold. This kind of driven and dedicated gold-seeker exists today, and more than 10,700 of them – a new record – are coming to the colorful hills of Southern Utah Monday through Oct. 18. The gold they’re seeking, however, is round, hangs from a ribbon, and is only given to the winners of 27 sports at the Huntsman World Senior Games.

Since 1987, the Huntsman World Senior Games has steadily grown to become the world’s largest annual multi-sport event for people ages 50 and older. The Huntsman World Senior Games welcomes the most attendees in annual numbers of athletes, fans, sponsors and even spectators. And for many people across the globe, it’s no surprise that the Huntsman World Senior Games is gaining a reputation for the best-organized event of its kind.

“I have competed in the top senior games in the world, and without hesitation, the St. George games are the best organized of them all. Plus, their opening ceremonies, sport socials, concerts and dances are by far the most impressive and fun,” said Barbara Gicquel, a resident of Salinas, California, and nationally recognized cyclist in her 70s. “I recently won three gold medals in Torino, Italy, and I’m training hard to take the gold at the Huntsman World Senior Games this October.”

Norm and Kathy Frable, St. George residents and senior athletes, also travel to various senior sporting events around the world.

“We love to travel, compete and make new friends in senior sports,” Norm Frable said, “but there’s nothing out there quite like the Huntsman World Senior Games. (It is) an amazing event that the city, and even the country, should be proud of.”

Not only do the Frables compete, they also volunteer as the sports directors for race-walking.

“Our favorite sports are race-walking and power-walking, both of which are growing in popularity, and that makes us happy,” Kathy Frable said.

“Whatever your sport, from track to triathlon or basketball to badminton, there really is something for everyone at the games,” she added.

Kathy Frable pointed out that the Huntsman World Senior Games offers five-year age brackets so people can compete against athletes that are their own age and at similar recreational and competitive skill levels.

“Because you’re competing at your skill level and in your age group, the chances of taking home a medal are much higher,” she said.

“It’s hard to name one reason why the games have done so well over the past 28 years,” Kyle Case, CEO of the Huntsman World Senior Games, said. “Our location is beautiful, our community is friendly and supportive, our donors and sponsors see the financial benefit the games bring and support us generously, our volunteers are dedicated and our full-time staff works hard all year long to make sure things go off smoothly. We’re blessed to have so many things going for us, and we plan to continue using these assets to remain the best senior games in the world.”

Case said the games brought a conservative estimate of $15.4 million into the region’s economy last October. So, while thousands will come to take away gold, they are gladly leaving behind millions of dollars for the opportunity to try. Plus, they are inspiring generations young and old to get active, live healthier and live longer. And that message alone is worth more than gold, he said.

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