While the opening ceremonies won’t be as elaborate and there won’t be as much fanfare as the London 2012 games, the first-ever Twin County Senior Olympics promise to deliver much excitement and fellowship for the area’s AARP crowd.
On Sept. 14 and 15, seniors from age 50 and up from the Twin Counties will compete in events ranging from swimming, golfing and biking to bowling, tennis and softball pitch. And while competition is a major part of the event, camaraderie will be just as important.
“If you haven’t grown up around it, you don’t really know what it is. I think people are worried about the competition part of it, but I think the biggest part of it is being able to get out and socialize with each other,” said Sam McLendon, Carroll County’s Director of Tourism and Recreation. “For many of them, a lot of their children have moved out and they are isolated a little. This is a way to try to get them out and enjoy each others’ company while doing something fun at the same time.”
Competitions will be broken up by gender and several age categories. Between 50 to 60 participants have registered for this inaugural event, which McLendon and other organizers hope will grow in the future.
“I think they will have a good time. Everyone seems excited about it,” McLendon said. “I think it’s a good first step and hopefully we can grow it into a bigger annual event, which I think is possible. I am pleased. We are just trying to give seniors more opportunities to do more things. I think people are enthusiastic about it and I think we are off to a pretty good start with it.”
Opening ceremonies are set to begin at 8:30 a.m. at Carroll County High School, with games beginning at 9 a.m. Sept. 14.
Swimming, golf and bowling are scheduled for Sept. 14, as well as a bike race and the 50-yard dash. The swimming kicks off the competition at 9 a.m. at the Carroll Wellness Center, with action in the 50-meter breaststroke, 50-meter sprint, 50-meter backstroke, and the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle. The 50-yard dash action starts at 9:30 a.m. at Carroll County High School, and golf ($15 charge) follows at 11 a.m. at the Galax Municipal Golf Course. The 11-mile bike race will take place on the New River Trail State Park beginning at 2 p.m. and bowling is set for 4 p.m. at Blue Ridge Lanes.
The Sept. 15 action kicks off at 7 a.m. with a 5K run, beginning at Carroll County High School and ending at the Carroll Wellness Center. Singles tennis competition follows at the high school, beginning at 9:30 a.m., and the softball hit/pitch, also at the high school, is set for 10 a.m. The one-mile race walk, set for 11 a.m. at the high school, completes the morning activities.
Horseshoe competition at the Carroll County Wellness Center cranks up the afternoon slate of games at 1 p.m. The basketball shootout is set for 2 p.m. at the center and ladder golf at the high school gets underway at 3 p.m. The corn hole competition finishes off the action with a 4 p.m. start at the high school.
Closing ceremonies will wrap up the two-day event at 5:15 p.m. at the high school.
“I just encourage everybody to come out and watch and participate. It’s been a joint effort with Galax and Grayson County and the Town of Hillsville. They are kind of our partners and are helping with some of the events,” McLendon said. “Everybody has worked really well together and that is the encouraging part.”
With the backing of the Hillsville Rotary Club, Dennis Ward has been the moving force behind the Twin County Senior Olympics.
“The Rotary Club looks for ways to impact the community with positive things. I think Dennis had seen similar events in other places and heard how well they had went over. So he proposed we do this and that is how we got involved,” McLendon said of the rec department. “It’s been kind of a joint effort, but Dennis and the Rotary Club kind of gave birth to it. It’s just a group of people who want to see things in the community get better.”