ST. GEORGE- It was time for music, dancing and partying Tuesday night at Greater Zion Stadium as the 35th annual Huntsman World Senior Games officially began.
Olympian Bill Schuffenhauer addressed the athletes and their families with a speech before leading the athletes in taking the oath.
Raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Schuffenhauer survived a difficult upbringing and, with the help of his grandmother, discovered the sport. He said he was always quick, an ability to run that came in handy when he had to escape trouble on the streets and sometimes the police.
Schuffenhauer said track coaches saw potential in him, potential realized after winning national junior championships while a student at Weber State University.
After more adversity in life, he later discovered bobsledding. Schuffenhauer was a member of the silver medal-winning four-man team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
“As a Huntsman Senior World Games athlete, I promise to participate in this event, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern it,” Schuffenhauer said as the athletes rehearsed aloud after him. “In the true spirit of sport, and to do my best to fulfill the mission of these games, which is to promote peace, health and friendship in the world.”
The ceremony paid special tribute to John H. Morgan, the games founder. This 35th edition is the first to take place since Morgan’s death in January.
Two of Morgan’s daughters were on hand to help light the ceremonial torch (see video above).
Also in attendance was Ruby Parkin Earl, granddaughter of John and Karen Huntsman, who for the second year in a row helped light the torch.
“Last year was the first time my husband and I had the opportunity to be part of senior Huntsman matches,” Earl told the crowd. “I have to say, I was so inspired. Every event I’ve been to, from swimming to softball to cycling to running. I was just amazed.
She went on to say that she was inspired to run the St. George Marathon this year after witnessing the energy and enthusiasm shown by seniors at the games.
“I was inspired by your actions to take care of your health,” Earl said. “Because when you take care of your health, you can also (take) care of those around you and love them.”
A record 11,300 attendees are expected at the games, which will take place at various venues around St. George through October 15.
A total of 33 different countries are represented this year, bringing the total number of nations participating in the Huntsman Senior World Games to 86 since its inception in 1987.
Athletes will compete in 35 different events. To see the list of events and for more information, go to the Huntsman Senior World Games website.
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