We enjoy playing badminton, not only for physical fitness, strength, mobility and mental health, but also for the social aspects of the game.
To motivate ourselves to play to the best of our abilities, we like to occasionally participate in tournaments, especially out of town tournaments that combines our passion for travel with our love for this sport.
The Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah was the perfect fit for a short fall trip. It is the largest annual multi-sport event in the world for athletes age 50 and better. Moreover, a trip to St. George, close to Zion National Park would give us another chance to hike the Narrows, which was closed last time we were there. (See post on hiking the Narrows.)
We flew into Las Vegas, picked up our rental car, and had a pleasant two hours drive to St. George, Utah. We were obsessively monitoring the weather as we only had the next day available to hike the Narrows as our badminton tournament play was scheduled to commence the day after the hike. See separate post on our hiking trip to the Narrows.
The city of St. George is very welcoming to the Huntsman World Senior Games athletes. As soon as we approached the city, we spotted street flags, banners and neon signs promoting the games and welcoming the participants. We drove to the Dixie Convention Center, the games headquarter, for the mandatory athlete accreditation. After accreditation, we checked out some of the games official merchandises and vendor booths, offering everything from nutritional supplements to vacation homes in Utah. As part of our registration, we received a games T-shirt, small souvenirs, and various discount coupons for local restaurants and shops.
That same evening, we headed for the badminton venue, Sunrise Ridge middle school, for the practice session. For badminton, the air humidity, lighting, and court spacing are all important factors in playing a good match. So a practice session to acclimatize to these factors, while not critical, offers some competitive advantage. The practice session is also a time to meet and rally with a partner, if the partner is from another city or country.
We arose early the next day, eager to start the exciting competitive games. My women singles matches, with 5 women players in my age group, were round robin matches, each player playing against all others in the group.
For women doubles, there was only one other team in our age group. For mixed doubles, there were too many teams for round robin play so a draw determined who plays in which group. We were partners for mixed doubles, but unfortunately, we ended up in a group with the top ranking teams.
After an exhaustive day of playing and watching many exciting games, we finished the singles matches and the doubles matches. That evening, a local pizza and pasta restaurant hosted us for a social gathering at a nearby resort clubhouse. They provided a nice dinner for all participants and guests. After dinner and speeches, the medals were awarded to the the winners from the first day of competition.
The second day we played two fast- paced mixed doubles matches. We tried our best but failed to win either one so we were knocked out of advancing to the medal round. We debated whether to stay and watch the finalist play, or go for the free health screening services offered as part of the Huntsman Senior Games. In the end, we chose the health screening.
The Huntsman World Senior Games is guided by three principals: Peace, Health, and Friendship. Without health the other two are hard to accomplish. Therefore, it makes sense that the Huntsman World Senior Games place so much emphasis on its annual free health screening for athletes. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of tests available to us: aerobic fitness, balance, blood pressure, blood glucose, body composition, cognitive wellness, carotid artery screening, functional testing, flu immunization, grip strength, hearing, oral cancer screening, retinal screening, and visual screening. We spent over two hours at these free tests and enjoyed it immensely. The volunteers, health care students from nearby colleges and universities were patient and knowledgeable.
After the busy second day, we enjoy a early dinner at the Black Bear diner, a local favorite and a popular restaurant chain in western United States. Then we drove 2 hours back to Las Vegas, Nevada.