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National Senior Games open; campus to host 16 competitions

Stanford is hosting the Summer National Senior Games through Aug. 15., and expects 10,000 athletes and some 20,000 of their friends and family to attend the two-week event.

The competition also is expected to attract thousands of spectators, since all of the events are free, said George Broder, a spokesperson for the local organizing committee for the games.

Stanford will host competitions in 16 of the medal and demonstration sports. Competitions will take place all over campus, including the stadium, golf course, Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, Red Barn and the West Campus Tennis Courts.

University officials are encouraging commuters to use alternative transportation as much as possible during the games. To request a customized alternative commute plan, send your commute starting and ending locations, work days and hours to commuteclub@stanford.edu.

Traffic detours and delays are expected next weekend—from 8:00-9:30 a.m. on Aug. 8, and from 8:00-10:30 a.m. on Aug. 9—when athletes compete in 5K, 10K and 5,000-meter runs.

During the games, athletes aged 50 and older will compete for medals in 18 sports, including archery, basketball, race walk, racquetball, road race, shuffleboard, table tennis, tennis, track & field and volleyball. (The athletes qualified for the games by competing in state championships.)

The games also will feature six demonstration sports: equestrian, fencing, lawn bowling, sailing, soccer and water polo. Participation in demonstration sports was open to all athletes—no qualification required—who were at least 50 years of age on Aug.ust 1, 2009.

Events also will take place on Cañada Road in San Mateo County (cycling), and in San Jose (bowling, horseshoes), Redwood City (triathlon), Treasure Island (fencing), Palo Alto (lawn bowling), San Francisco (sailing) and Sunnyvale (softball).

A full schedule of events is available on the Senior Games website.

Among the thousands of athletes competing in the games will be two members of the Stanford medical faculty: basketball player Ira Glick, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and cyclist Randall Stafford, director of the Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices in the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

Glick, who is six-foot-one, started playing basketball as a teenager and never stopped. He’ll be playing point guard—“the guy who directs everybody”—on the team.

“That’s what I’ve been doing all my life,” he said. “It’s like running a clinic or directing a research project. I’m always the point guard.”

Glick, 73, said he expects his team to do well. But that’s not the reason he’s competing.

“The whole point of the National Senior Games is to encourage elderly people to stay active—to do different sports,” he said. “I’m happy to be the poster boy for the games—the guy with a full-time day job who continues to play at the highest level. I picked up tennis later in life. I try to do something every day. That’s really the point of all this.”

Stafford, 50, will competebe competing in four cycling events—the 5K and 10K time trials, and the 20K and 40K road races.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of being with others who are intent on preserving their quality of life as they grow older,” said Stafford, who has been cycling competitively since his mid-20s.

“Daily physical activity plays a key role in preventing many health problems.”

The games are governed by the National Senior Games Association, a non-profit member of the U.S. Olympic Committee dedicated to motivating seniors to lead healthy and active lifestyles through athletic competitions.