weather icon Clear

Las Vegas-area Nevada Senior Games offer Olympic-style events

At age 73, Gary Wuest travels around the Western United States to compete in track and field events.

The Sacramento, California, man is among about 1,000 seniors participating in the Nevada Senior Games’ fall games across the Las Vegas Valley, which run through Oct. 26.

For Wuest, it’s more than just exercise.

“Camaraderie is the number one thing,” he said Oct. 11 during a track-and-field meet at UNLV’s Partridge Track Stadium. Plus, “it gets me off the couch.”

As Wuest talked, fellow seniors competed in shot put and hammer throw.

Nevada Senior Games, launched in 1980, offers Olympics-style events for those 50 and older. The nonprofit’s fall games feature competitions in more than 20 sports.

Organizers say the purpose is to promote health and physical fitness among seniors, and an opportunity for social interaction.

“We want to provide a forum for older athletes to compete with their peers and also celebrate their achievements in an atmosphere of friendship and support,” said Liz Palmer, executive director for Nevada Senior Games.

Nevada’s events are open to athletes from all over the United States and even draw some competitors from countries such as Jamaica, Canada and Germany.

During qualifying years, top finishers advance to compete at National Senior Games Association events.

The national competition is held every other year. The most recent one was in June in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with 13,882 participating seniors, according to the organization’s website. The next games are slated for 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

About Nevada Senior Games

Nevada Senior Games started as “just a few people who wanted to organize a fitness competition,” said Palmer, who started as executive director about a month ago.

It gained nonprofit status in 1985 and became affiliated with the National Senior Games Association that year.

In nonqualifying years, about 1,000 seniors sign up for the fall games, Palmer said. In qualifying years, that number jumps to about 1,800.

In addition to the fall games, Nevada Senior Games holds springtime events: volleyball tournaments in Henderson, softball tournaments in Mesquite, and a regional track-and-field meet at UNLV.

Anyone can sign up to participate, as long as they’re 50 or older and healthy, although no medical exam is required. Competitors are broken up into five-year age brackets for competitions.

“The age is the only qualifying thing we have,” Palmer said.

Two of the most popular sports are pickleball and track and field, Palmer said. The track-and-field competition Oct. 11-13 at UNLV drew more than 200 participants.

One was 66-year-old Daniel Lloyd, who lives in the Bay Area. He has been competing in the Nevada Senior Games for six years and participated Oct. 11 in the throws pentathlon event.

Wuest has competed in senior games for 22 years across the country — mostly within a 400-mile radius of his Sacramento home. About 15 years ago, he started competing in the Nevada Senior Games when his son moved to Las Vegas.

He said he enjoys conversations with the other track-and-field competitors, whom he says are honest and “really good people.”

What does he participate in during track and field? “Everything over 100 meters,” he said about running. He also competes in throwing and jumping.

Some people train hard for the fall games, Palmer said, while others sign up just to have fun.

The age range of participants is typically from 50s to 80s, but “we’ll go up as high as we need,” Palmer said. There’s also a nonqualifying division for 45- to 49-year-olds in some sports.

There are even competitors in their 90s, said Alfred McDaniels, a board member for Nevada Senior Games. One of them was slated to compete Oct. 12 in the track and field meet.

“They’re an inspiration just to see them out there and participating,” he said.

McDaniels has been involved with Nevada Senior Games since its inception.

“It’s just been a joy for me to work with the program over the years,” he said.

Initially, about 12 participants competed in six events around Las Vegas, he said.

McDaniels was UNLV’s head track coach from 1973 to 1992, and was inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. When he retired, he became Nevada Senior Games’ director.

The 79-year-old said he has bad ankles and knees, and his running days are over, “but I probably can still throw.”

Martha Watson, a 73-year-old who’s a four-time Olympian, has volunteered Nevada Senior Games for about 10 years. She was director of the track-and-field meet for four years and is now helping someone else transition into the position.

When she was in high school in the 1960s, there weren’t any sports programs for girls, Watson said.

“I’m happy that women my age and older can finally get to compete,” she said.

Watson has lived in Las Vegas for about 40 years and competed in the Olympics from 1964 to 1976.

For athletes participating in the Nevada Senior Games, “it’s like a reunion every year,” she said, as they reconnect with friends.

As for competing, “whether they medal or not,” she said, “it’s an accomplishment.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

Nevada Senior Games fall competitions

Dance: 1-4 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road

5K and 10K road races: 8 a.m. Oct. 26 at Wilbur Square Park, 200 Park St. in Boulder City

More information: 702-242-1590 or nevada.fusesport.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Weekend traffic, what you need to know
What you need to know to get around including traffic, events, and alternative routes.
Suspected drunk driver traveling wrong way on I-15 dies in crash - VIDEO
Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Jason Buratczuk said the crash happened about 3:30 a.m. when a woman driving a dark-colored vehicle believed to be a Volkswagen was heading the wrong way on northbound Interstate 15, between Lake Mead Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Family of DUI fatal crash victim speaks out - VIDEO
The wife and children of DUI fatal crash victim Marcial Escobia, 65, of Las Vegas, speak out about the crash that killed a loving father, husband and grandfather. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sheridan Su’s Every Grain Is Now Open
Sheridan Su's latest restaurant, Every Grain, is open for lunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
University Center Drive unveiling - VIDEO
Swenson Street has been renamed University Center Drive after a four year effort by UNLV. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Training canine good citizens in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Fox, an enrichment specialist with The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas, trains large, high-energy dogs in canine etiquette to boost their chances for adoption. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Red Rock Canyon free to all Monday for Veterans Day - VIDEO
In honor of Veterans Day, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is free to all visitors on Monday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist dedicates heart sculpture on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Artist Katy Boynton dedicated her sculpture depicting a giant steel heart to the Las Vegas community Saturday night outside Fashion Show mall. (James Schaeffer /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead in suspected DUI crash in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Two people died early Saturday morning, Nov. 9, 2019, in a two-vehicle collision on Boulder Highway near Flamingo Road. A 24-year-old man was arrested on DUI-related charges in connection with the crash, police said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coyotes spotted inside a guarded and gated Summerlin community - VIDEO
Coyotes were spotted inside the Summerlin gated community of Queensridge. Residents are said to have seen as many as eight coyotes nearby the developed residential area. Residents said one neighbor's schnauzer was taken by a coyote and later found dead. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Warm weather in the Las Vegas Valley sticking around - Video
With an area of high pressure staying firm along the West Coast, the mild weather conditions in the Las Vegas Valley will remain for several days. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
O.J. Simpson files lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan over TMZ story - VIDEO
A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas defamed O.J. Simpson when hotel employees told TMZ he was kicked out of the casino “for belligerence” in November 2017. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas firefighters give oxygen to cats - VIDEO
Las Vegas firefighters gave oxygen to cats rescued from a house fire in northwest Las Vegas on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Chocolates cactus garden lit for Christmas - Video
The 26th Annual Ethel M Chocolates Cactus Garden Lighting in Henderson, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The garden will be open until 10 p.m. daily through the holidays. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Smith Center will now be charging $5 fee to park - VIDEO
Patrons now have to pay to park to attend events at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown, continuing a recent trend in the Las Vegas Valley. (James Schaeffer / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Valley campaign launched to protect pedestrians - VIDEO
Law enforcement, safety advocates and community members launched the Dusk to Dawn Pedestrian Awareness Campaign on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, after the Las Vegas Valley saw a spike in pedestrian deaths this spring. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car hits a pedestrian and crashes into a Smith's - VIDEO
Las Vegas police are investigating after a car struck a pedestrian and crashed into a Smith’s grocery store in the east valley. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two people were displaced after a fire caused heavy damage to a home
Two people were displaced after a fire caused heavy damage to a home near downtown at 1403 South 6th St. on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Latest charges against Giovanni Ruiz, accused in the killing of UNLV student Paula Davis - VIDEO
Prosecutors added sexual assault charges Thursday against Giovanni Ruiz who stands accused of killing UNLV student Paula Davis. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Homeless in Las Vegas struggle to deal with bitter cold.
Homeless in Las Vegas struggle to deal with bitter cold. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye)
Therapy dogs dress up for Halloween at Poets Walk Henderson - Video
Therapy dogs dress up for a Halloween costume contest at the Poet's Walk Henderson Memory Care facility. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prove you're a local: Try to pronounce these Nevada cities - VIDEO
Try your hand at pronouncing these Nevada cities and watch as other locals from Downtown Summerlin attempt to get the names right along with you. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The town drowned by Lake Mead
St. Thomas was founded by Mormons in the 1800's, was drowned by the creation of the Hoover Dam, and then resurfaced in 2002. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thursday could be the coldest October day in Las Vegas in 48 years
The National Weather Service forecast an official low of 34 degrees at McCarran International Airport. Parts of the valley will be several degrees colder. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Teenage boys waiting for a school bus hit by a car - VIDEO
Two teenage boys waiting for a school bus were hit by a one of two cars involved in a crash at West Ford Avenue and Chieftain Street, near South Fort Apache Road, on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
RV crashes into North Las Vegas casino - VIDEO
Samuel Scott talks about what he saw after an RV crashed into the Cannery casino in North Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Glenn Puitt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
BLM will sell cactus and yucca salvaged from public land - VIDEO
BLM will sell cactus and yucca salvaged from public land where a solar energy development is planned. The plant sale will take place north of the Apex Industrial Area, along Interstate 15, about 10 miles northeast of the Las Vegas Valley, this weekend, Oct. 26-27. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas homicide lieutenant discusses house fire murder-suicide - VIDEO
Las Vegas homicide and arson investigators believe Renai Palmer intentionally set her 6-year-old son on fire, igniting a house fire that would kill them both. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mom launches school lunch petition
Lacey Steinmetz, the mother of a Clark County elementary student, doesn’t think students have enough time to eat lunch. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Completion of pedestrian bridge delayed on Las Vegas Strip
The latest pedestrian bridge being built over the Las Vegas Strip, between Park MGM and Showcase Mall, has had it completion date pushed to November. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeopardy! James competes with G2E attendees
Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer, appears at the G2E IGT booth to help celebrate launch of Jeopardy! slot machines and compete against attendees in mock games of Jeopardy!
Cat survives 15-mile commute in car bumper - VIDEO
A Las Vegas Review-Journal employee was surprised to learn she had a passenger during her 15.5-mile commute to the office on a September Sunday. (Tony Morales & James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shortages of OB-GYN doctors in the Las Vegas Valley - Video
Dr. Michael Gardner discusses the shortages of OB-GYN doctors that will happen and what steps are being taken to entice them to come or stay in the Las Vegas area.
Southern Nevada is in a West Nile virus hot zone - VIDEO
Southern Nevada, along with Central Arizona and Southern California, make up a “hot zone” that is reporting the highest number of mosquito-borne West Nile virus cases in the country. The Southern Nevada Health District recently reported 28 cases of West Nile virus in Clark County. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul Browning Released from Ely State Prison - VIDEO
Paul Browning greets his mother, Betty Browning, after being released from Ely State Prison. Browning served 33 years on Nevada’s death row. (Rachel Crosby/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother upset over her child's cornea donation being sent overseas - Video
Lindsey LiCari, the mother of Ayden and founder of Ayden's Army of Angels, is upset that her child's corneas were sent overseas and was told that she would be able to see her son's eyes again. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)