Houston, Texas, June 16, 2011 – – As the sky glowed from the lighting of the Senior Games Cauldron, more than 10-thousand senior men and women athletes from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several foreign countries began 14 days of going for the gold in 800 separate competitions. The world’s largest multi-sport event for athletes age 50 and older is being conducted at 13 separate venues in and around Houston.
The lighting of the Senior Games Cauldron, located on Discovery Green on the East side of downtown Houston, came at the conclusion of the 11-hundred mile Reliant Energy Torch Relay Across Texas, which began on June 8 at the Johnson Space Center with Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham as the first torch bearer. The final torch bearers 58-year old Kay Glynn and 100-year old Harry Pepper, both athletes participating in the Games, touched the torch to a fuse. The flame rose to the top of the 28–foot tall cauldron, and ignited the Senior Games Flame, which will burn throughout the Games.
The Flame Arrival Ceremony presented by AstraZeneca, included a performance by Grammy Award winner Gloria Gaynor, remarks from Mrs. Dana Brown, Chair of the National Senior Games Association Board of Directors, as well as remarks from representatives of Games sponsors – Humana, AstraZeneca and Reliant Energy. Also addressing the large crowd gathered at Discovery Green were Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and Dan Wolterman, President and CEO of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and Chairman of the Houston Local Organizing Committee of the 2011 Senior Games. In his remarks, Wolterman said, “Houston is honored to host the 2011 National Senior Games. Our Local Organizing Committee has worked diligently to ensure these Games are the most successful in history, and to provide the athletes and visitors an exceptional experience in our community.”
The Senior Games Cauldron, designed by Ward and Ames Special Events, engineered by Haynes Whaley and Associates, and built by Fretz Construction Company, will be given to the City of Houston at the conclusion of the Games and will remain as a legacy of the Games in the nation’s fourth largest city.
Athletes began checking-in at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday. Home to the AstraZeneca Athlete Village, the Center is also the location of competition in seven sports.
The Games have been conducted since 1987 by the National Senior Games Association, a member of the United States Olympic Committee.