Missouri State Senior Games Kicks Off Official Competition

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COLUMBIA - The 20th annual Missouri State Senior Games kicked off official competition with the 1500M race walk in Columbia on Friday.

The Missouri State Senior Games is an Olympic-style festival for participants ages 50 years and older. It is an open event, so out of state residents are able and encouraged to participate.

During the race walk Friday, judges watched closely on the side of the track, making sure racers stayed in proper form. Racers must keep one foot on the ground at all times.

Racers came from all across the Midwest for Friday's competition. 

"It brings people who have similar interests from all over the state, and neighboring states. Missouri, Kansas, sometimes people from Iowa and Nebraska, we're a special group," said Alan Poisner, a member of the Heartland Race-Walkers. 

The games aim to promote physical fitness, awareness of older citizens abilities, and create public support of recreational sports.

"I do it for fun and I like the competition, but from a health standpoint, it is good not only for your cardiovascular system, but it's also shown that it prevents cognitive decline, so it's good for your heart, and for your brain," said Poisner. 

Entrants can participate in National Senior Games Association-approved sports including archery, badminton, 3 on 3 basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, race walking, road racing, shuffleboard, softball, swimming, tennis, triathlon, track and field and volleyball.

"I competed in basketball and high jump in school, but I can't go up and down well anymore. So I go straight ahead instead." Lee Debault, another participant, said.

The Games run through Sunday, and the top three finishers in each event are invited to travel to Bloomington, Minnesota next July for the 2015 National Senior Games.