This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Huntsman World Senior Games, which are played annually in St. George, Utah. The Games is the largest Olympic style multi-sport event for seniors age 50 or above. Over 10,500 athletes participated in 30 sports during the two week period.
Pickleball was introduced to the Games 13 years ago, and this year's participation was the largest and most competitive to date. A total of 635 players from 34 states, including Hawaii, as well as two Canadian provinces, competed in the event. Our very own Mo Garcia competed in three different events in this very popular tournament. Play was held at two public facilities, Little Valley Park, with 24 purpose built courts, and Sun River Pickleball Club, with 14 purpose built courts. Both venues had views of the serene mesa tops that surround the courts. The Games were conducive to outdoor play with temperatures varying from 60 - 85 degrees.
Mo and his partner, Dan Sturzenbecker from Myrtle Beach, won the Gold medal in Men's Doubles in the 55-59 age category. He and his partner, Robin Wyrick from Casa Grande, AZ, won a Bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles, 55 - 59 age category. They beat the eventual Gold medal winners in the preliminary rounds! Mo said "...the level of competition was as strong as any Tier 1 event in the nation. In my case, each match (Men's and Mixed) went to three sets!" On day 3, when Mo and Dan competed in the Men's Skill Doubles, 4.0: 50+, he and Dan had nothing left in the tank to compete the way they would have liked.
Mo estimates that out of the 635 players represented, 12-14 players were from the Carolinas. Ten of these players were awarded medals! Mo commented that pickleball is alive and well and continues to grow at an unprecedented rate throughout the USA. He encourages our Aiken players to set a goal to compete at next year's Huntsman Games.
Congratulations, Mo, on your success at the Huntsman Games....you certainly earned your medals given the highly competitive three set matches you played! We are so proud of you!