A showcase for senior athletes
The national games offer more than 800 summer-sports events. The competition is keen – but the broader focus remains on healthy lifestyles.
Palo Alto, Calif.
It's summer in California and the athletic facilities of Stanford University are abuzz with tanned, muscular men and women. But these aren't college athletes: August means it's time for the National Senior Games, the largest multisport event in the world for people 50 and over.Skip to next paragraph
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The games, which began Aug. 1 and run for two weeks, are made up of more than 800 events held at athletic facilities in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, and San Jose. Sports include archery, badminton, racquetball, tennis, swimming, track and field, and volleyball.
The games are held every other summer, and this year about 10,000 athletes and 25,000 family members and friends are expected to attend.
"It was a big hit," Mr. Godfrey says.
The association's mission soon evolved from a strictly sports emphasis to a focus on healthy lifestyles, he says. The group has satellite offices in every state except Oregon and North Dakota, and most states organize local games and activities to reach out to less athletic seniors.
But many of the participants in the National Senior Games are longtime athletes.
Cathie Hopkins, who is in her 50s, came to Palo Alto from the Midwest to play women's doubles tennis. She took up the sport when she moved to Kansas City about 20 years ago and wanted to find an activity that was social as well as athletic. She qualified for the games last September with her teammate, but Ms. Hopkins has had her eye on the games since a friend participated several years before.
"When I heard about it I said, 'I want to do that one day,' " she says.