HAMLET — Two hundred of Richmond County’s finest athletes aged 50 and older celebrated the opening of the 2018 Senior Games on Monday with an Olympic march, hot dogs and a good deal of booty-shaking.
That last came from the Delusional Divas, a group of hugely bossomed and bottomed women in house dresses and hats, using walker frames as as props and tissue paper to augment their “assets.”
“If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it,” they lip-synced to Beyonce Knowles’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” as the audience hooted and snapped photos.
The extravaganza, moved indoors to Cole Auditorium at Richmond Community College because of the surging winds and lowering sky outside, came a bit after the start of the games, even though it was meant to be the kickoff.
Bocce opened the event on Monday morning, at Hamlet’s Memorial Park. Competition will continue through month’s end, comprising art and dance, as well as individual, doubles and team sports.
It will resume today with pickleball.
Mike Deese, 68, of Rockingham is one of two men signed up for pickleball. Last year, Deese won a silver medal for individual play at the state games.
Deese and his partner entered in the doubles category but will have to play singles against each other, he said, because “you have to play somebody.”
Mary Coble, 69, will compete in line dancing and in bowling. She has been to the games before, bringing home prizes for quilting and bowling.
“(Participating) gives me an outing, since I’m not working anymore,” she said. “I’m not going to sit home and get stale.”
The Senior Games of Richmond County involve athletes from the Ellerbe, Hamlet and Rockingham senior centers. At 60,000 entrants, North Carolina has the largest participation in the nation.
Winners at this year’s state games in September may go on to national competition in Albuquerque next June, if their sports are included. State competition will be Sept. 17-23 in Raleigh, Cary and Durham.
Last year, Richmond County track-and-field athlete Pat Clemmons, then 57, won six gold medals at state. Line dancers Mary Baker, Daisy Brown, Elaine McLaurin and Luvenia Williams — performing as the Southern Ladies — also won a gold medal.
“We hope to go back to the state (games),” Brown said Monday. “We have everything together. We have our costumes. We have our steps in line.”
And they have a new name: Journey.
Athletes at the 2017 state games also won 10 silver and two bronze medals.
Ida Mae Malloy, who won silver in shot put and discus at the state games, hopes this will be her comeback year. She’s moving up in age groups and figures the competition may be getting thinner.
“I move up to the 70-year-olds,” she said, “so I hope” to win and, ultimately, move on to nationals.
The first National Senior Olympics involved 2,500 participants and took place in 1987 in St. Louis. In 1990, the competition took the name “National Senior Games” after a complaint by Olympics organizers.
Today, the games are a 20-sport, biennial competition for men and women 50 and older, the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]