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Registration underway for county’s annual Senior Games

SUN CITY CENTER — Hey, seniors. It’s time to grab your shorts, sneakers and favorite sports paraphernalia to begin warming up for the 33rd annual Tampa Bay Senior Games.

Registration is underway for the popular seniors-only competition, which takes place every fall at venues throughout Hillsborough County, including two in Sun City Center and one in Riverview. Men and women ages 50 or older by Dec. 31 are eligible to participate. This year’s events take place Oct. 7-18.

There’s just about something for everyone in this competition. The games feature 37 competitive events, including basketball, golf and pickleball; swimming, tennis and track and field; table tennis, billiards and bowling; bean bag toss, corn hole, dominoes and darts — even baking, hobby and talent showcases. Medals are awarded for the top three finishers and ribbons for fourth and fifth.

Two new events have been added this year: three-on-three basketball and a 5K run that’s scheduled for Oct. 5, before the games officially begin. Pickleball, one of the events to be played in Sun City Center, is scheduled for Oct. 25-27 after the games have “technically” ended.

Participation is spread among them all.

“For things like the track and field events we get around 100 seniors,” said Mary Clements Fowler, senior program coordinator of special events for Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. “The majority of them are in their 50s and 60s.

“But we also get 100 or more mostly older seniors who participate in events like horseshoes and shuffleboard.”

Participants competing in basketball free shooting, billiards, bowling, golf, pickleball, power lifting, swimming, track and field, table tennis and tennis also have the opportunity to qualify and advance to the Florida International Senior Games & State Championships in Lee County Dec. 7-15.

The $20 entry fee includes unlimited participation in most of the games, a ticket to the awards luncheon, the opening ceremony breakfast and a T-shirt. Some events have an additional cost: golf, $25, which includes cart and greens fees; power lifting, $5; 5K run, $15; and pickleball, $5 per event. The cost for guests at the awards luncheon is $10.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Senior Games hosted 655 competitors, up more than 50 from the 2011 event due primarily to the addition of softball. The oldest contestant was 97; the youngest, 50.

Joe Mignogna of Sun City Center, 74, plans to compete again this year — if his back cooperates.

“I usually sign up for lawn bowling and golf,” he said. “My wife, Barbara, and I came in first last year in lawn bowling, and I came in second a few years ago in my age group in golf. We both enjoy the social aspect of the games, meeting lots of new people from all over the county. And the luncheon after the games is very nice.”

The games are hosted by Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, Hillsborough County Family and Aging Services, City of Tampa Recreation Department, Temple Terrace Leisure Services and sanctioned by the Florida Sports Commission. The Sun City Center Community Association, Serenity Meadows and Summerfield Crossing Golf Club are among the sponsors.

Online registration, rules, schedule, locations and more information are available at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/seniorgames or by calling (813) 635-3519. If you’re 50 or older by Dec. 31 you can sign up online now through Sept. 23 at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/seniorgames or register by mail: 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 23rd Floor, Tampa, FL 33602.

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