Valley gets ready to host the Senior Olympics

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POLSON PICKLEBALL player participates in Pickelball game in the 2017 Senior Olympics at Linderman Elementary School. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Director of Montana State Senior Olympics Kay Newman said she and the board of directors of the Senior Olympics chose Polson as a venue to host the Montana Senior Olympics primarily because of the swimming venue.

Last year’s Senior Olympics was successful and drew athletes from not only all over the state of Montana but the United States, in hopes of competing with other Senior Olympians whose athletic ability varied from beginner to advanced competitors of all ages.

“We chose Polson and I would say the No. 1 reason (we chose Polson) was for the swimming venues,” Newman said. “We were in Helena and they had a terrible pool. We caught a lot of complaints on that (in 2016).”

Newman said she was “pleased” with the cooperation she has received from the participating Mission Valley communities.

“It seems like everyone (in the Mission Valley) was willing to work with us,” Newman said. “That is including the tribe in Pablo, Ronan and Polson who were all offering venues for us.”

Last year, just like this year, the sport of Pickleball drew the most participants, according to Newman. Pickleball, a combination of table tennis and a condensed version of regular tennis, has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing sport among the senior demographic.

“There will be around 100 participants and that is the fastest growing sport in all of America,” Newman said. “I would say at housing developments in Arizona they had over 276 participants in a four-day tournament. The sport of Pickleball is getting more and more seniors moving. The great thing is that you don’t have to be an athlete to play it.”

Last year, the now former mayor Heather Knutson and the Polson Chamber of Commerce, along with the Polson Park District, launched some additional Pickleball courts that will now be used as part of the Senior Olympic Pickleball venues, along with Linderman Elementary School tennis courts that will be converted into Pickleball courts.

Unlike last year, this year’s Senior Olympics will be a qualifying event for the National Senior Olympic games that will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2019.

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