Games award gold medals to athletes in their golden years

Posted at 7:27 PM, Oct 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-10 21:27:43-04

ST GEORGE, Utah – Senior athletes from all over the world are in southern Utah this week to compete for the gold medal.

The Hunstman World Senior Games kicked off October 6. Seniors are competing in 27 different sports over the course of two weeks. They may have more gray hairs than younger athletes, but the competition is just as fierce.

“I didn’t even learn my sport until I was 35,” said volleyball player Susan Waters. “So to have this opportunity to be an athlete in my second life, so to speak, is really fun.”

Events range from archery and shooting, to soccer. There’s even competitive bridge. For many of these athletes, it’s an annual tradition to gather and challenge the world.

“I come here every year, and I love it,” said volleyball player Mike Steele. “This year, I rode my motorcycle out so I could go through this gorgeous country instead of fly over it. I recommend it."

For a lot of the team competitions, players may not know each other beforehand. But players said it makes things more interesting and more fun when they get to know people while they compete.

“We just met each other last night,” said volleyball player Karina Paniagua. “So playing, getting the feel of each other is kind of tough. But we’re having a good time.”

The fire for the games started more than 25 years ago as a way to allow those older than 55 to compete on a professional level, but volunteers said it’s become a message of lifelong healthy living.

“I will be just like them someday,” volunteer Lina Haller said.

For more information, visit the games' website.