They came in cowboy hats, sequins and tie dye to cheer their states' representatives at the 2009 Summer National Senior Games.
Pairs of senior athletes paraded down the center aisle at Stanford University's Maples Pavilion Saturday evening under the colorful banners of their state flags.
The Celebration of Athletes took place one week into the two-week-long competition. The ceremony included a parade of flags, speeches by former Olympian Jennifer Azzi, former NFL quarterback Steve Young and others, the induction of two athletes into the Senior Games Hall of Fame, musical performances and the arrival of the solar-powered Senior Games torch.
One-hundred-year-old Roger Gentilhomme, the oldest Senior Games athlete, received a standing ovation for his years of championship tennis and bowling. He was later inducted into the National Senior Games Hall of Fame, with a medal presented by Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.
Starship singer Mickey Thomas led the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir with an original song, "Long Live the Challenge," which was written for the games, as athletes and family members held their hands high and shouted "to raise the roof" in celebration of their accomplishments.
"Please let your light shine," said Azzi, a former Stanford University and WNBA basketball champion. "Thank you all. Age really is nothing but a number."
Young urged the crowd of athletes, "You should shake the hand of all the people who participate and thank them for the challenge to see how good you can be. That is the root of sportsmanship."
Click on the picture of Steve Young, at top left, to watch the video.