Never Too Late to be a Competitive Athlete … The National Senior Games

The National Senior Games is a well-kept secret to many Americans, but it shouldn’t be.

The modern-day Senior Games got its start in 1985 with the formation of the national Senior Olympics, which brought together senior games already held in the majority of states. In 1987, St. Louis, Missouri, was the setting of the first national Senior Olympics, and about 2,500 athletes aged 50 and over took part.

The second Senior Olympics, held two years later in St. Louis, got a little bigger, with about 3,500 athletes taking part. But then a hurdle was thrown in its path.

The United States Olympic Committee had some concern about the national senior sports competition using the name Olympics. As a result, the National Senior Olympics Organization had to rebrand, and in 1990 changed the Olympics part of its name to Games.

That might cause some difficulties, right?

Far from it. Since the rebranding, growth of the Games has been steady. The National Senior Games attracts top-caliber athletes from around the nation, who participate in dozens of events spanning 19 different sports. The national competition is held every two years, and has taken place in 10 different states since the name change.

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Despite more stringent qualifying standards, the current version of the Senior Games attracts upwards of 10,000 athletes competing in:

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • BasketballBadminton
  • Bowling
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Horseshoes
  • Pickleball
  • Race walk
  • Racquetball
  • Road race
  • Shuffleboard
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Track and field
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball

There are multiple events in many of these sports, which, like the Olympics, separate events by gender. Visit the National Senior Games Association website for a complete list of Senior Games events.

The Senior Games separates competition into age groups. All non-team sports in the Games (meaning all but basketball, softball, and volleyball) divide competition into five-year age divisions starting at 50-54 and in most cases going up to 70-74. There is also a 75-and-over age class in most events, and athletes over 100 years old have participated in the Senior Games.

Despite the competitive standards of the Games, many participants gravitated toward competitive sport later in life. Perhaps the best example of this is multi-sport athlete Flo Meiler, a 79-year-old grandmother who holds world records for her age class in several events including pole vaulting, which she never even tried until she’d reached Medicare age.

Meiler participated in this year’s Senior Games, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 19 to August 1. If you, too, are of Medicare age and would like to follow Meiler’s example by getting in the best of shape or starting to train for competition, Medicare supplement insurance will provide the stress-free protection you need as you focus on your goals.

If you’re interested in learning how to qualify for the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, stay tuned for an upcoming post.

Are you a competitive athlete? What advice do you have to offer?

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