Emotions were high as athletes and supporters gathered for the 2022 Flame Arrival Ceremony sponsored by Aviv Clinics to formally kick off The Games and “A Reunion For the Ages.”
With 2022 being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which made organized sports accessible to women and girls, NSGA wanted to recognize the many females over 65 who participate in Senior Games but who were deprived of opportunity prior to the landmark law. Many of the torch bearers selected were among these pioneering women.
The highlight of the event is discovering who would light the cauldron and we could not have found a better athlete honoree than Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially register and complete the Boston Marathon and who opened the door to female runners. This will mark the third time she has competed in National Senior Games 5K and 10K road races.
The torch arrived by water taxi with Roni Lakatos and Mattie Lenhardt of the Broward Heat women’s basketball team, who represented Florida along with torchbearer and elitetrack athlete Brian Hankerson of Hollywood. Dee Pack, State Coordinator for Alabama Senior Olympics (representing the NSGA Member Organizations), and veteran National Senior Games staff member Ed Roberts of Fort Worth, Texas.
The fun beach party atmosphere blended with the ceremonial elements to provide fun and the formality of welcoming the Games to Broward County. The Florida Memorial University Drumline ushered in the event. during the program athlete Andy “Mr. Impossible “ Steinfeldt successfully held a side plank until the clock read 4:08 to beat the world record by 32 seconds. And yes, he did sing “Margaritaville” while he planked and the crowd sang along.
Another popular element was the dance group Introdance, a high energy, interactive program with an eclectic mix of Latin and Caribbean rhythms. The athletes loved the presentation and at one point formed a Conga line weaving through the audience.
Don’t miss more fun at the Celebration of Athletes next Monday, May 16, at the Las Olas Promenade Park, just west of the Flame Arrival Event.
See more images from the party and torch activity in the Photo Gallery.