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Seniors battle it out during the Senior Games

By JAMES WADE III | 7/24/2013, 1:03 p.m.
Seniors going at it during the Senior Games
The cauldron for the Senior Games lit up downtown Cleveland on Friday night. MICHAEL LILLY

Senior athletes show their stuff

By JAMES W. WADE III

Staff Reporter

The 2013 World Senior Games opened Friday evening on Mall B in downtown Cleveland with an array of events, including music and the torch lighting ceremony that lit the Cauldron. An estimated 11,000 athletes are in the city. Athletes ages range from 50 up to 101 years old and they are from all 50 states. The athletes and visitors are booked at 33 hotels in the area.

The 2013 National Senior Games are the first event being held in the brand new Cleveland Convention Center. The new building, situated in the heart of downtown Cleveland features a 30,000 square foot Grand Ballroom and 230,000 square feet of exhibit space. The facility is the main hub for the Senior Games, housing both the Athlete Village and the competition areas for badminton, pickleball, shuffleboard and volleyball.

The Huntsman World Senior Games, a member of the National Senior Games Association, acts this year as a qualifier for the Senior Games in Cleveland for : Archery - Target, Badminton, Basketball 3-on-3, Bowling, Cycling, Golf, Horseshoes, Pickleball, Race walking, Racquetball, Road Races, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Track & Field, Triathlon and Volleyball.

The games are taking place in surrounding areas such as Chagrin Valley, Mayfield Heights and Twinsburg. The celebrity Shuffleboard game was the main attraction Friday night with Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney and former Cleveland Browns great Dick Ambrose finishing as the winners

Others on hand have been Olympic track star Harrison Dillard, former Cavaliers Jim Chones, Austin Carr, and Campy Russell. Bernie Kosar and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald were excited to be participating.

The Chagrin Valley Athletic Club was host for the tennis matches where Gloria Bryant and Joan Whitlow from New Jersey participated .

“It is amazing to see how many people over 50 are participating and it’s encouraging to see how many of us are being active. We, the senior population, are grateful for having good health and staying active. I thought the event itself is praiseworthy to have seniors in competition,” said Bryant.

For those who have no idea about Pickleball: Pickleball, according to the USAPA Website, is a fun game that is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball (similar to a wiffle ball) and wood or composite paddles.

Cleveland is represented in various sports including golf, where Judge Shirley Saffold will be competing. “I am so excited to be able to compete with some of the world’s best seniors,” said Judge Saffold.

The 2013 Senior Games will be in Cleveland until Thursday, August 1.