Don’t let the State Games of America pass you by

By Mike Moran

Every resident of Colorado will have a chance this summer to compete in a healthy and positive sports event that celebrates the state’s love of the outdoors and fitness – and, they can be a part of Team Colorado while enjoying it.

It will take place in Colorado Springs when the National Congress of State Games brings its signature event, the 2009 State Games of America, to the hometown of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the third straight time, July 30-Aug. 2.

Hosted by the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., the event set records for athletes during 2005 (9,462), and 2007 (10,803). Some 10,000 competitors from 47 states are expected this summer.

Major venues are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Olympic Training Center, Fort Carson, Colorado College, Memorial Park, Rampart Park and the Colorado Springs World Arena.

Open water swimming, triathlon, BMX, a 5K run/walk, track and field, mountain biking, golf, rock climbing and archery are just a few of the 31 sports offered.

Competitors of all ages and skill levels who have won medals in their respective State Games, as well as all Colorado residents, are eligible to compete. Registration is open at www.stategames.org for competitions offered at 22 venues across the city.

“We are proud to host this very unique event and help it grow,” said Sports Corp. President and CEO Tom Osborne, who cut his teeth in amateur sports while directing the very successful Big Sky State Games in Montana before taking the post in Colorado Springs during 2003. “It brings our community the right kind of wholesome sports event that offers every athlete something in terms of a healthy lifestyle and an outdoors experience.”

The area’s natural beauty, at the foot of 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, offers a bonus to the athletes and their families in terms of mini-vacations and side trips to see the sights around a city that derives a lot of its economy from tourism.

The Sports Corp will conduct a major community torch run July 30 that begins at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and concludes at the World Arena, where more than 10,000 fans will watch the Olympic-style ceremony that ends with the lighting of the State Games flame by 2008 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo, a hometown product.

Olympic figure skating medalist and world champion Michelle Kwan did the honors during 2007, and Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic champ Rulon Gardner did it in 2005.

The games will attract athletes from as young as 5-year-old figure skaters to runners and others in their 80s. There is literally a sport for everyone in the mix, and that’s the beauty of the event and its mission as directed by the National Congress, which annually sees more than 400,000 participants in State Games across the nation.

The eclectic athlete roster will include state high school champions, college athletes, elite senior and junior competitors, and many who just want to do something that is healthy, positive and fun over the long weekend.

The event has been awarded to San Diego in 2011 by the NCSG. But make no bones about it, Colorado Springs has been the catalyst for its rapid growth, and wants it back again.

“We love this event, the athletes, and the pride it brings to our city and its national reputation as a destination for amateur sports events,” said Sports Corp Chairman Dave Palenchar. “We think Colorado Springs does this as well as any city in the nation, and it’s a staple in our aggressive effort to enhance our reputation as the Amateur Sports Capital of America.”

Mike Moran is director of communications for the Colorado Springs Sports Corp. He can be reached at mike@thesportscorp.org.

One Response to Don’t let the State Games of America pass you by

  1. Hey, where’s the rugby tournament!?

    Dick Burns
    June 13, 2009 at 10:33 am