Up to 1,000 contestants are expected to participate in the track and field, swimming, golf, basketball, softball, tennis and recreational events scheduled for the Arkansas Senior Olympic Games to be held Sept. 5-21 in Hot Springs.
About 20 percent of the contestants are expected to come from states other than Arkansas, according to Gail Ezelle, executive director of the games. "The purpose of the games is to promote healthy lifestyles for seniors and to help them continue to have a high quality of life by competing," Ezelle said.
Participation is open to anyone who will be at least 50 years of age by Dec. 31. Most competitions include age categories based on five-year increments, such as 50-to-54 and 55-to-59. Age categories in team and doubles events are determined by the age of the youngest team member.
A basic registration fee of $24 for Arkansans and $35 for out-of-state residents entitles participation in up to eight events, with a $10 fee required for each additional event. For basketball and softball, each member must be registered as an individual, and additional team fees of $45 for basketball and $80 for softball are charged to cover the cost of game officials, Ezelle said. A late charge of $10 is charged for individuals registering after Aug. 26 (Aug. 22 for the tennis events) and for teams registering after Aug. 19. Forms for those participating in doubles and team events must be submitted together. Additional fees include $12 per person for each tennis event, $5.50 for bowling events and $40 for golf, which includes a cart.
All participants receive an Olympics T-shirt. Medals are awarded to the top three competitors in each event sanctioned by the National Senior Olympics, while the top three participants in recreational events win ribbons.
The games will begin with singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis events at the Coronado Tennis Center in Hot Springs Village Sept. 5-7. Track and field events will be conducted Sept. 12-13 at the Hot Springs High School stadium. Running events will range from the 50-meter dash to the 1,500-meter run, and field events will include discus, high jump, shot put, javelin, running and standing long jumps and pole vault.
Swimming events will be held beginning at noon Sept. 13 at the Hot Springs Family YMCA. Included are backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle and medley races of various lengths. Double elimination softball tournaments for various age groups will begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 19 and 8:30 a.m. Sept. 20 at Kimery Park in Hot Springs.
Additional major events will include a golf tournament at the Glenwood Country Club, 32 miles southeast of Hot Springs via U.S. 70, beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11; 3-on-3 basketball tournaments for various age groups at the National Park Community College Sept. 12-13; and bicycling events to be conducted Sept. 20-21 at various locations.
Other scheduled sporting events include archery, badminton, bowling, horseshoes, race-walking, racquetball, shuffleboard and table tennis. Recreational events to be contested include Scrabble, Skip-Bo, Baggo, PickleBall, stationary cycling, air-gun target shooting, spincasting, eight-ball pool, basketball shooting and weightlifting.
A Celebration for Athletes dinner honoring Olympics participants, to be followed by a dance with live music, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Oaklawn Jockey Club. The guest speaker will be Dr. David A. Lipschitz, host of the public television program "Aging Successfully with Dr. David." Tickets are $15 for registered Olympians and $20 for guests.
Registration forms, a complete schedule of events and more information is available on the Senior Arkansas Sports Organization's Web site, www.SrSports.org. Additional information can also be requested by phoning toll-free (from within Arkansas only) 1-800-720-7276 or (501) 321-1441 from out of state. Requests may also be submitted by fax to (501) 321-4961, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to Arkansas Senior Olympics at P.O. Box 3377, Hot Springs AR 71913.
For information on Hot Springs accommodations, restaurants and attractions, phone the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-SPA-CITY (321-2277 in the Hot Springs area) or visit www.hotsprings.org.