Friday was opening day for the Barnett Bank Senior Olympics, and already competition was fierce. The event was the Walk-a-thon. More than 100 participants walked twice around a soccer field at Mitchell Park in New Port Richey, trying to get across the finish line first. But during the event, two people had to be disqualified for running, said Renee Martone, one of the event's organizers.
"You wouldn't believe the level of competition we had out there," she said.
The olympics, in its fifth year, has been able to attract a steadily growing crowd of Pasco County's amateur athletes ages 60 and over. The event is designed to imbue Pasco's older residents with the spirit of camaraderie, conditioning and competition.
Barnett Bank started the olympics five years ago as a way to thank the bank's older customers and become more involved in the community, Martone said. While the event still retains those goals, it now has become a way to promote physical fitness among seniors, she said.
"We have seen the need for physical fitness and would like to promote it in people," Martone said.
The olympic events will continue through Nov. 6.
Although registration is closed, spectators always are welcome to come and cheer on contestants, Martone said. These events include:
Bowling, beginning 9:30 a.m. today at Lane Glo Bowl and starting at noon Sunday at Lane Glo Bowl and Unity Lanes.
Bocce (Italian lawn bowling), beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday and Tuesday at Beacon Woods, Lakeside Woodlands, Club Wildwood and Regency Park. Bocce is new to the Senior Olympics and was put in to replace shuffleboard. Since shuffleboard is played in so many places using varying rules, it fostered an in
tense competition among players, Martone said. "We had to discontinue it because it became so competitive," she said.
Basketball Free Throw, starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the New Port Richey Recreation Center.
Swimming beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the New Port Richey Recreation Center.
Softball (pitching and hitting) at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Mitchell Park.
Horseshoes at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Mitchell Park.
Tennis doubles at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the New Port Richey Recreation Complex.
Golf competition Nov. 5 and 6 at the Seven Springs Country Club.
Pool at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 6 at the Golden Cue.
The events are open to both men and women in two age brackets: 60-69 and 70-plus. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for winners in each category. Call 847-7201 for more information.