ST. GEORGE - Seniors in southern Utah are getting active and going for the gold.
The Hunstman World Senior Games wrap up this weekend, but aside from the medals, seniors said it’s the active lifestyle that’s the main message.
The games attracted athletes from 49 different countries, and sports from the classic track and field to the modern pickleball are represented. The Utah games were started close to 30 years ago by Salt Lake City resident John Morgan Jr., who is 90 years old this year. He still competes in tennis, and he said even heart surgery several years back wouldn’t keep him away.
“If [they] just sit around and do nothin, they’re missing life,” Morgan said. “If we can keep active like we do here in the games, we can keep in good shape physically. I found that out.”
That’s one of the main reasons Morgan said he and his wife started the Huntsman World Senior Games. He said it’s inspiring to see all the senior athletes come together.
Mark Riker is the CEO of the National Senior Games Association, and he said the events aren’t about first place.
“It’s not all about being the fastest, running the fastest, jumping the highest,” he said. “It’s about you doing your personal best at that very moment.”
It was that can-do attitude that attracted the attention of the National Senior Games Association. They honored Morgan with the “Personal Best” award, for inspiring others to give their best.
“His message about health, fitness, and peace, what they decided when they started the games, is still so resonate, so important these days,” Riker said.
It’s that legacy, and that message, that keeps the athletes, like St. George resident Gwen Woodbury, competing year after year.
“If you’re active, you can do more,” Woodbury said. “If you sit around and be a couch potato, you get so you can’t even move. It makes your life so much better.”
Woodbury has won several gold medals, and she is back this year with the New York Snowballs to try for gold in volleyball.
The senior games wrap up on Saturday. For more information about the Huntsman World Senior Games, visit their website.