There are competitors and participants; both enter the Wyoming Senior Games with the former taking it very serious and the later, not so much. The Wyoming Senior Olympics attracts a wide range of athletes of varied abilities but they all have one thing in common: everyone is at least 50 years old.
Competitors in those first two age groups, the 50 to 54 and 50 to 59 categories, are often referred to as “baby seniors” by the somewhat older participants. Possibly the hardest thing for those entering in the youngest ages is admitting they are old enough to qualify as a “senior” at all.
Cheyenne resident Bill Stone, President of the Wyoming Senior Olympics, strongly encourages anyone age 50 and over to give the Olympics a try, but he is especially interested in seeing the numbers of “baby seniors” increase. “Fifty and Fit for Life” is the new slogan to encourage younger competitors to get into the Senior Olympics when.
“Not all competitors in the Senior Olympics have gray hair,” Stone said. “It’s great to have participants in their 80s but we strongly encourage younger competitors as well.”
While not as handy as last year when the Olympics were held in Laramie, local competitors don’t have far to travel since Cheyenne hosts the events for the next two years.
Traditionally one community hosts the event on two consecutive years to accommodate the cycle with the National Senior Games. Those are held every two years. Each competitor in the National Games must first qualify in a State Games on the year prior to the national event.
The National Senior Games was held this past June in Albuquerque, New Mexico with all competitors qualifying in 2018. The next one won’t come around until 2021 when they move to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; the next qualifying year is 2020.
This means the Wyoming Senior Olympics held this August 7 to 10 in Cheyenne are during a non-qualifying year. It gives all the volunteers and race directors a chance to test the waters and figure out the best way to hold each event. In the case of the competitors, it’s a chance to check out race courses and event venues. That also means participation is typically lower on the first year, with more racers coming from other states during the qualifying year.
There are plenty of events to choose from with 24 sports offering competition. Some events, like the 25 yard freestyle swim and 50 meter dash, are short and quick. Others, such as the mile swim, triathlon or 40 kilometer bicycle road race, take a good bit longer.
There are team sports such as softball and three-on-three basketball, as well as solo events from billiards to bowling, trap shooting and disc golf. Some athletes specialize, focusing on just one sport, while others go for a scattergun mode and try out new sports and enter events they never tried before.
One new event this year is paddleboard. Stone said the City of Cheyenne provides the paddleboards with the event held at Sloan’s Lake. Those taking up the challenge compete between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 10.
“It is a timed event,” Stone said. “It is not a big group start but, instead, each individual takes off solo, but they must compete sometime during the listed time schedule.”
Medals are awarded in all events to the top three finishers in each age group. Age groups start at 50 to 54, and continue on up in five year increments. As most veteran Senior Olympics participants know, it’s not unusual to earn a medal just for getting to both the start and finish lines when the number of age group participants is less than four.
There are also social gatherings with the Opening Ceremonies, complete with the Parade of Athletes, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on August 8 at the Cheyenne Downtown Depot Plaza. A banquet with dinner and a cash bar will be held at the Kiwanis Community House on August 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for both events must be purchased during registration.
The registration deadline is fast approaching. All mail-in registrations must be postmarked by July 19, 2019, but on-line registration by the July 19 deadline is strongly encouraged. To register on-line, visit www.wyseniorolympics.com and click on the registration link. Basic registration is $30 and includes entry into one event plus a t-shirt and athletic bag. Each additional event is $10.