Each year hundreds of athletes from across the country and around the globe travel to St. George for the Huntsman World Senior Games. Each athlete arrives with a desire to compete in events they love, and they play in those respective events with an unbridled passion of competitive spirit and sportsmanship.
This year’s opening ceremony featured keynote speaker and former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller. Miller attests to how important passion is in the field or on the court, but especially when it comes to the game of life.
“Number one, you have to have the passion, you have to enjoy what you do. Certainly set goals for yourself, I’m a big proponent of setting those long-term goals; that’s great you want to compete in the Olympic games. What are the short term goals that you have to look at, write down and achieve every single day in order to get to that goal,” said Miller.
Miller has competed with passion while achieving her goals and becoming the most decorated American Gymnast, male or female in U.S. gymnastics history. One of her most memorable performances came in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. It was at that time she earned the gold medal for her nearly perfect performance on the balance beam.
She also helped the “Magnificent Seven” to the U.S. Women’s first ever gymnastics team gold. However, more memorable to Miller are not the medals won, but the relationships forged and maintained throughout her illustrious career.
“Once athletics and sports gets in your blood it never leaves, and I think that’s what all of us, all of the athletes that are competing here today and this week. That’s what we can identify with, the friendships that we form, the travel we get to do. 22 different countries are being represented here, all 50 states. So, I think it’s just tremendous to have that support amongst athletes, but also to reap the physical and health benefits of continuing to stay physically active and be such great role models for future generations,” said Miller.
Being physically active and healthy took on new meaning in Miller’s life this year. In January she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and while going through full rounds of chemotherapy and losing her hair, doctors discovered and removed a baseball size tumor from her ovary.
Now, cancer free and on her way to full recovery, she travels the country sharing the message of good health and believes it is as important as ever for both her and the athletes at this year’s senior games.
“It’s such a great thing to be able to continue to get that message out with all of us. Make your health a priority, put that first in what you do, because if we’re not healthy we can’t take care of everyone else.”