The Senior Crowd: Summer National Senior Games Take Place in Houston

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Seniors Perform Michael Jackson Routine

By Ameena Rasheed

Participants and attendees from around the world met in Houston, Texas for the 2011 Summer National Senior Games.  The games, not to be confused with the Summer Olympic Games, allowed athletes over 50 the chance to compete for — and take home — the gold.

The games were held at various spots around Houston, including the George R. Brown Convention Center and Reliant Arena June 16 through 30.
Do not let their ages fool you, they have got heart, skill and can move with the best of them.

Since 1987, the National Senior Games Association has been dedicated to motivating older adults to lead healthy lifestyles through physical activity.Marion Lisehora, captain of the “Geri Actives” women’s 70-plus volleyball team, gave the same encouragement to other women her age during the games.

Seniors Play Volleyball

“Stay active, get out of that rocking chair and do it,” said Lisehora.
With that attitude, the “Geri Actives,” won first place overall in their category.

Even though a gold medal is everyone’s goal, the lifelong memories created through this event were more important to the participants.
Jefferson Smith, from North Carolina, not only celebrated a first place win in the horse shoes competition, but a birthday.
As he was recognized on stage for his win, the audience sang happy birthday and greeted him with plenty of hugs.
“It was one of the most enjoyable days of my life,” said Smith.

This year was an even more memorable moment for newcomers to the games. It was the first time Canadian athletes were invited to play.
A little over 100 Canadians were hand selected to participate. Merrie Lee, one of only seven badminton players, was one of them.

It is Lee’s first Senior Games appearance after playing badminton competitively for eight years. She said that she’s taking it easy and soaking it all in.
“The Senior Games are good in that you meet a lot of people. It gets me to see places that I would not have been able to go to,” said Lee.

The NSGA was founded in 1985 in St. Louis, Missouri by seven men and women.

After coming together with individuals from 33 other states who hosted games for senior citizens, they coordinated the first Summer National Senior Games competition in 1987 with 2,500 participants.
The Summer Games have grown tremendously with now 15,000 athletes expected to play in the 2011 games. This is one of NSGA’s signature events.

“I’m a supporter of the games in general because I believe in being active and having a long life the way these people do,” said Denise Lee, spectator and supporter, who traveled from Ontario, Canada to see
her mother compete.

As a spectator, Lee also said it was inspiring to watch the athletes be victorious and triumph over any doubts they may have had initially participating in the Senior Games.

“The smiling faces of people that think that they couldn’t do something, who came for the first time or the tenth, and they still managed to accomplish it. That joy that they show that comes from inside out, that’s the greatest thing to witness,” said Lee.

The Senior Games consisted of 18 medal sports, which included basketball, volleyball and swimming.

The National Senior Games are held every two years. The host city for 2013 is Cleveland, Oh.
You can catch plenty of the action at the George R. Brown Convention Center and surrounding areas. For more information be sure to stop www.nsga.com

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