The 2019 Missouri State Senior Games began today in Columbia with singles and mixed doubles pickleball. The competition will ramp up tomorrow and continue over the weekend, with more than 20 events scheduled for the games’ 25th anniversary.
Twelve to 1,500 seniors will participate in this year’s games, according to Bruce Ungles, assistant director of Show-Me State Games, the organization that runs the senior games.
The games feature a variety of team and individual sports; including soccer, softball, swimming and race walking. In Olympic games tradition, gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the first, second and third place finishers in each category.
The purpose of the senior games is to “provide an annual physical fitness event to promote a social, competitive, athletic and recreational activities for older adults,” as well as raise awareness of seniors’ athletic capabilities, according to its website.
“It’s just a really neat event,” Ungles said. “Obviously people like to compete, but it’s more about camaraderie and seeing old friends than winning a gold medal.”
The senior games is an open competition, which means participants from other states are welcome to register and compete. Former professional athletes are also welcome to compete, though they must be at least 20 years removed from their professional sports career. Participants must also be at least 50 years old to register.
A buffet dinner and social event will be held for senior games athletes 7 p.m. Friday night at Peachtree Catering.