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Trio of seniors strike gold in Utah
Youre never too old to be young.
Three Franklin County residents came home with the gold in
their respective sports and age brackets, at The Huntsman World Senior Games
held in St. George, Utah.
The Huntsman Games, which include more than 30 sports, is the
largest annual multi-sport event in the world for athletes age 50 or over.
Participants compete against their peers within brackets of
five years. It takes place in two weeks in October and includes a magnificent
opening ceremony event. The Games were not held in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Russ Cumbie, of Carrabelle, and partner Michaelin Watts, of
Apalachicola, have been practicing tennis together in Apalachicola and at the
St. George Plantation, preparing for the Huntsman Games as well as the Florida
Senior Games to be held in Fort Lauderdale in early December.
At Huntsman, Cumbie and Watts competed in mixed doubles
tennis, and were seeded #2 in the 80s division, which covers athletes between ages
80 and 84. They had a tough semi-final match, played under lights against the
team of Joanne Barthman, of Bluffton, South Carolina, and Don Hales, of Salt
Lake City, Utah. The Franklin County team ended up winning the match 6-4 and
Because of a rain delay, the play for the mixed doubles final
was begun at 2-2 for the first two sets, with a 10-point tie breaker if a
third set was required. The team Cumbie and Watts were playing was made up of
Sharon Branch, from Reno, Nevada, and Ron Morris, of Provo, Utah. and they had just moved
up into the 80s after winning the the 75s, for ages 75 to 79, at the last
Huntsman Games in 2019.
Cumbie and Watts lost the first set 6-3 but pulled together
to win the second set 6-4, and then took the match with a 10-2 for the third
set tie breaker.
Over the past year Watts husband Dave could be seen on his
bicycle doing his every other day 18-mile practice run on Bluff Road and beyond
in preparation for the Huntsman World Senior Games and the upcoming Florida
At Huntsman there are three categories of bicycle events – Recreational,
Experienced and Expert for each age division. Watts competed in three bicycle
events in the 80s division, for ages 80 to 84, inside the Experienced category,
which features a 5k Hill Climb, 15k Time Trial and 38k Road Race.
In the Hill Climb, Watts took top honors with a time of 25:03.31,
and in the Time Trial he won with a time of 34:33.23. In the Road Race, his winning
time of 1:24:51.51 secured him the gold in a sweep of all three events. In
fact, he found that his times are approaching the Expert category, which bodes well
for future competition.
Watts rode on his brand new Trek bike, purchased with a gift
from his Navy SEAL mission buddy, the late Dante Stephenson. A legendary restaurateur,
Stephensen passed away July 25, 2020, and was beloved for his creation of the
iconic Atlanta hotspot Dantes Down the Hatch.