HAMLET — Anticipation for the 27th annual Senior Games and Silver Arts of Richmond County has begun.
A few board members and a handful of regular participants all filed into the Hamlet Senior Center for the Games’ kickoff reception Monday — which also was the first day for signups.
“Its main objective is to promote health and fitness,” said Susan Sellers, who brought the Senior Games to Richmond County in 1990 and is now a board member. “It’s a wonderful program for older adults. It’s about making new friends, renewing old friendships and keeping your body active and going.”
Registration, which ends Thursday, April 6, will only be accepted at the Hamlet Senior Center from 9 a.m. until 4 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Richmond County residents ages 50 and older are able to compete in athletics and arts and crafts, with the age groups being in five-year increments (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, etc).
The sign-up fee goes towards the opening and closing ceremonies and includes a T-shirt and medals for event winners.
Games include bocce ball, ping pong, pickleball, bowling, golf, softball, bicycling, archery, basketball shooting, cornhole, horseshoes, billiards, events in track and field, board and card games and much more. Silver arts include oil painting, watercolors and pastels, sketches, photography, quilting and other traditional crafts and performing arts.
“I’m proud that I did found it here. A lot of people enjoy the competition and the sports,” Sellers added. “I know that studies have shown that it (Senior Games) does prove to keep people living longer and out of nursuing homes. It has a long-arm kind of effect on people’s lives.”
Events are held at all three county senior centers, at Memorial Park in Hamlet and Browder Park in Rockingham, at Richmond Community College and the Cole Auditorium, Striker’s Bowling Alley and in specific venues for sports that the county does not provide.
The top three finishers in each athletic event will be presented with gold, silver and bronze medals for their accomplishments. Those who finish first, second and third in the official NCSG sports will have the opportunity to compete in the state finals with other area winners in Raleigh during the summer.
“It’s so easy to sit down and do nothing,” board member Mike Deese said. “We just like to try and keep everyone going. People would be amazed at how fun it can be.”
Deese, whose best events are tennis and pickleball, has been to the state finals with his doubles partner. Although there may be many different reasons people sign up for the games, he’s still in it for the competition.
“Sometimes, I’m too competitive. I want to win,” Deese said with a laugh.
Ida Malloy is another Richmond County resident who has seen success at the state level. So much so, that she will be attending her fourth National Games this summer in Birmingham, Alabama. Malloy competes in discus and shot put.
“It’s fun because you meet so many other people,” she said. “When I went to Houston, I saw a 50-year old man jump 20 feet in the long jump. And I’ve seen a 87-year old woman run every race. It’s just fun to see that people are still active.”
First-time participant Mechele Parker, who grew up in Norman and played sports in school, says she signed up Monday in order to participate alongside her mother and for health reasons.
“I’m just interested in getting to know a little bit about the commmunity itself. I’ve been away for several years and had an opportunity to come back,” she explained. “And rather than sitting around at home, I want to get back into the community and some of the activities that I’ve put to the side.”
The Richmond County Senior Games begin Monday, April 24 and will run until Monday, May 8.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow him on Twitter @_UncleLeon.