How to compete in Senior Olympics

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If you are age 50 or older and want to compete in Olympic sports, the nonprofit National Senior Games Association (NSGA), a member of the U.S. Olympics Committee, organizes just the thing for you and all fit men and women your age: the Senior Olympics. You can compete year-round in individual and team sports at the state level and try to qualify for the biennial Summer National Senior Games. Several states also stage Winter Games. Let your games begin by entering a state-level Senior Games event.

Entering State Senior Games

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Go to the NSGA website and click on “State Games” in the left sidebar menu. Choose either “Summer Games” or “Winter Games” then click a state.

On the state splash page, click on the state event organizers' website link for detailed information, including a calendar of all Senior Games competitions in your state, both qualifying and non-qualifying, scheduled during the next 12 months, rules, locations and fees.

If you are ready to sign up, download the State Games registration form. Fill out and send it in on time with your check for entry fees. Or use the online sign-up on the state's website or the NSGA site.

Competing

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Consult with your doctor, if necessary, to be sure you are fit to engage in strenuous physical activity.

To make participating worthwhile, get in shape and follow a training program, either individually or with your team.

Compete in as many state level non-qualifying Games as possible to gain experience before trying to qualify for the Nationals.

Be at Games venues at least two hours before your first event's scheduled start time, to orient yourself, get a registration packet, warm up and be on time for the start of your event.

Give it your best effort, expect serious competition from your peers. You will be competing in 5-year age brackets, starting with 50-54, 55-59, and so on, without upper limit. The top three individual finishers and the two top teams in each age group will qualify for the National Games. For certain sports, such as archery, track and field and others, it is possible to qualify by meeting NSGA's Minimum Performance Standards (MPS) for your sport and age group. For complete qualification rules, see References.

Preparing for Summer National Games

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On the NSGA website, click on the “National Summer Games” link. Read the basic information about where and when the next Nationals will be held.

Review the rules, important documents and Minimum Performance Standards posted here for the next scheduled Summer National Senior Games.

If you have qualified, wait for the Summer National Games registration package that NSGA automatically sends to all qualifiers via regular mail several months in advance of the registration deadline.

Complete the registration form or register online. From this point on, the process is the same as registering for individual State Games.

Come Nationals time, travel to the host city. When settled, check out where you'll be competing and double-check the scheduled times and locations for your events. On event day, allow time to do your pre-race warm-up, be on time for your events, then go for Olympic gold!

Tips

Always warm up and cool down thoroughly, hydrate with electrolytes, and build your age-appropriate training levels gradually, til you're in top shape for your age.

If traveling out of state for competitions, get there a couple of days ahead of competing, to acclimatize yourself and get over jet lag, if any.

Also, check out the Masters athletics programs for additional opportunities to compete in age-group track and field, swimming and other sports competitions.

Warnings

Before buying any equipment, check the Senior Games standards (weights, types) for shot puts, javelins, discus, and spike shoes, to make sure your equipment will pass inspection at the Games.

Don't over-train! Injuring yourself is the only thing that gets easier with age! There's nothing more frustrating than to train for months, only to be sidelined with a hamstring pull just when you thought you were ready to compete.

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