2017 SSG International Beach Games Preview

2017 SSG International Beach Games Preview – Friday, September 29 – Sunday, October 1
Olympic athletes, top-ranked national and international athletes and Tampa Bay area athletes gather in Clearwater Beach

EVENT: 2017 Sunshine State Games (SSG) International Beach Games, an amateur, multi-sport festival, held on the sands of Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The Beach Games are presented by the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, in conjunction with St. Pete/Clearwater Sports and Events and the Sheraton Sand Key Resort.

COMPETITION DATES: Friday, September 29 through Sunday, October 1, 2017.

LOCATION: Sheraton Sand Key Resort, 1160 Gulf Boulevard, Clearwater Beach, 33767. All events of the 2017 SSG Beach Games have no admission charge. Parking is available at Sand Key Park at 1060 Gulf Boulevard, for $5.

EXPECTED TO COMPETE: Approximately 400 athletes are expected to compete in six sports of the 2017 SSG International Beach Games. The Games feature athletes traveling to Clearwater Beach from all over the world; including Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Czech Republic. A total of 15 states will be represented at the Games with athletes from Alabama, Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Athletes from 50 Florida cities will make their way to Clearwater Beach for the SSG Beach Games.

SPORTS OF THE SSG INTERNATIONAL BEACH GAMES: Beach Tennis, Beach Ultimate, Beach Powerlifting, Scottish Heavy Athletics, Under 19 Super Weight Throw and Ultra Weight Pentathlon World Championships. The Ultra Weight Pentathlon event has been named a World Championship for the first time in the history of the sport.

The SSG Beach Games is an example of how the Florida Sports Foundation continues to offer Florida’s amateur athletes the latest innovations and trends in the national and international sports arena. The International Beach Games transforms the wide Clearwater Beach between the Sheraton Sand Key Resort and the Gulf of Mexico into an athletic playground. To accommodate the sports involved athletes and spectators will be treated to a variety of multi-purpose sports areas to include three Ultimate fields, eight Beach Tennis courts, a 75-yard throwing area for the Weight Throws and Scottish Heavy Athletics and a Powerlifting platform.

An added bonus of the SSG Beach Games Weekend is an opportunity for all hotel guests, spectators and Beach Games participants to try Archery Tag for free. Archery Tag is an intense, fast action competition like dodgeball with bows and arrows. Teams of five will play timed games to try and score the most points. Shoot your opponents, a target or catch an arrow to score points in this fun-filled combat archery game.

AWARDS: Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be presented to all top three individual finishers and members of the top three teams within each sport. The First Place Open and Coed Division teams in Beach Ultimate will receive team trophies. Also for Ultimate, a trophy will be awarded to the team that best exemplifies the “Spirit of the Game.”

Beach Tennis is played on a court similar in size to a beach volleyball court (16 meters long X 8 meters wide. The net is 1.7 meters in height and the game is played with a paddle (no strings) and a stage 2 (low compression) orange ball. The scoring is exactly the same as regular tennis, except with the permanent use of no-Advantage, after Duece. Plus, there is no second service and no service let. The game is predominantly played between doubles teams, although singles can be played on a narrower court (4.5 meters). Under and overarm serves are permitted and either member of the receiving team may return the service. A point is won if the ball hits the ground in the opposing court or if the opponents hit or serve the ball out or into the net.

The 2017 Beach Tennis World Cup Tournament is shaping up to be extremely competitive due to the number of high caliber players competing, according to sport director Steve Culver. The highly ranked players include; Rick Simeon, a former #1 ranked player from Miramar, is playing with Culver, currently ranked 93rd, in Men’s Open Doubles. Donny Young, a sixth-ranked player from California and 2016 SSG Beach Games gold medalist, is teamed with Riva Da Silva, of from South Florida and ranked 80th internationally. Another team to watch Jan Macko, from Czech Republic and ranked in the top 50 internationally, playing with Matteo Godio, from Italy and ranked 107th.

Singles and Men’s and Women’s 40+ Doubles will be played Friday, followed by Men’s and Women’s Open Doubles on Saturday and Mixed Doubles on Sunday. Over 60 beach tennis players have registered to compete in the 2017 Beach Tennis World Cup at the SSG Beach Games.

Beach Ultimate is variant of grass Ultimate. The rules are the same with the exception that Beach Ultimate is played on a smaller field (75x25m) and is generally played 5-a-side. The Spirit of the Game Award is still selected by the players in the tournament and awarded to the team that best shows the sportsmanship and spirit of the game of Ultimate.

A total of nine teams will play in two division (Open and Coed) with the first game starting at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning and the final contest beginning at 4:30 p.m. The two division champions will be determined by playing a round robin format with the best records earning the gold medals. Returning for the 2017 Games in the Coed Division is the Scoober Divers team, from Sebring, silver medalists in the 2016 Games.

Beach Powerlifting will follow the regular rules of USA Powerlifting with athletes competing in one or more of any of the bench press, deadlift and squat lifts. Age groups begin at 13 years old and go through 70+. The platform will be set up on Clearwater Beach for a unique setting.

A total of 60 athletes, the maximum number allowable for one platform, will be in competition throughout the day on Saturday beginning at 9:00 a.m. The athletes range in age from 15-year old Anna Boettger, of Lithia, who is competing with her father, Matt, to 70- year old, Barbara Warren, of Charleston, West Virginia. Warren is a retired PhD Chemist and senior athlete, who also competes in swimming and track and field events. She traveled to Florida for the 2015 USATF National Masters Track and Field Championships, in Jacksonville, and competed in the 800 meter run.

Also competing is a pair of gold medal winning powerlifters from the SSG Summer Festival in Palm Beach County. Thong La, a 24- year old lifter from Tampa, won a gold medal in the 75kg Open Division with a total of 1218 pounds (446 lbs squat, 270 bench, 501 deadlift). D.C. Fawcett, a 39-year old also from Tampa, was a gold medal winner in the 80kg Submaster Division with a combined lift of 1052 lbs (347 lbs squat, 286 lbs bench, 418 lbs deadlift). He will be competing with his wife, Sarah, at the SSG Beach Games.

Scottish Heavy Athletics are a traditional part of Scottish Highland Games and Gatherings that create an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual satisfaction between the various hosting organizations and the athletic community. The competition will consist of the Open Stone Put, Heavy Weight for Distance, Light Weight for Distance, Hammer Throw, Caber Toss, Sheaf Toss and Weight for Height.

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, 30 athletes will work to create that atmosphere of cooperation and mutual satisfaction on Clearwater Beach within the athletic community. Among the 30 athletes registered are Gary Dixon, of Sarasota, a 59-year old middle school track and field throws coach and special education teacher at Brookside Middle School. Dixon, 2016 Ultra Weight Throw gold medalist, competed at the college level at East Stroudsburg University and has been preparing for this weekend’s competition on a throwing circle at his home in Sarasota.

Nicole Whitaker, a 16-year old at St. Andrews School, in Boca Raton, had a seventh-place finish in the discus at the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships, in July, at the University of Kansas. She threw a personal best 135′ 1″ to earn All-American status. She will be competing in the Scottish Heavy Athletics event along with her mother, Kris, on Sunday and is registered for the Under 19 Weight Throw Florida Championship, on Saturday.

Ultra Weight Pentathlon is being held as a World Championship Event for the first time at the SSG International Beach Games in Clearwater, according to Sport Director Jim Griffin. This event involves a series of throws including the hammer throw, shot put, discus throw, a weight throw, super heavy weight throw and Ultra Weight throws. Some meets limit themselves to the Shot and Discus, while others add the Javelin and/or the Hammer. At indoor meets you’ll find the Weight (sometimes outdoors too), and occasionally the Superweight. The Ultras attract a special breed.

The special breed on Clearwater Beach features 42 athletes, from 13 different states, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning in the 75-yard throwing pit. “Since the event is a World Championship Event, that’s one of the reasons for the influx of out-of-state athletes,” said Griffin.

A last minute addition to the registration is Kibwe Johnson, a hammer thrower and native of Georgia, who competed for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Also traveling from out of state is Tim Shannon, a 54-year old from Seattle, Washington, the Ultra Weight Pentathlon Gold Medalist in the Men’s 50+ age group at the 2015 USATF National Masters Throws Championships.

Guy Dirkin, an Ultra Weight Throw gold medalist at the 2016 Beach Games, splits his time between two types of tracks; athletics tracks and car racing tracks. A native of Great Britain, Dirkin currently lives in Clermont and has traveled to the World Masters Championships in New Zealand and the European Masters Championships in Denmark this year earning medals at both.

Also being contested is the Under 19 Weight Throw – Florida Championship, featuring athletes under the age of 19. Of the over 10 under 19 athletes registered, many are looking to qualify for the 2018 New Balance Nationals Indoor (NBNI) Meet. The March, 2018 NBNI will be held in New York City, where the country’s best prep track and field athletes have the opportunity to be seen by college coaches and earn scholarships.

A gold medal winner at the 2016 SSG Beach Games, Maddi Malone, qualified for the New Balance Nationals Indoor and made such an impression on coaches from Auburn University, she was offered a full scholarship. Malone returns for the 2017 Games, along with Derek Akey, of Gainesville, who along with Malone was named the 2016 USATF Florida Throwers of the Year. Patti Malone, Maddi’s mother, is making her Weight Throws debut, competing in the Ultra Weight Throws World Championships.

Schedule of Events
Friday, September 29
9:00 a.m. – Beach Tennis (M&W 40+ Doubles, M&W Open Singles)

Saturday, September 30
9:00 a.m. – Beach Tennis (M&W Open Doubles, M&W Advanced Doubles)
9:00 a.m. – Beach Powerlifting
9:00 a.m. – Beach Ultimate
10:00 a.m. – Ultra Weight Pentathlon World Championships

Sunday, October 1
9:00 a.m. – Beach Tennis (Open & Advanced Mixed Doubles)
9:00 a.m. – Scottish Heavy Athletics

The Sunshine State Games are an annual program of the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization. The 2017 International Beach Games are being held in conjunction with St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports and Events and the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. Nearly 10,000 of Florida’s finest amateur athletes have competed in over 25 sports during the 2017 Calendar Year. For more information about the Games, the nation’s longest continuously-running State Games in the nation, visit www.ssgbeachgames.com.

The Sunshine State Games can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/sunshinestategames.