Sunshine State GamesCharlotte County will host a Sunshine State Games (SSG) Summer Games Festival for the first time in the 39-year history of the Games when judo, taekwondo, and track & field are held in the area this weekend.

Over 1,000 athletes are expected to compete in the three sports on Saturday and Sunday at Charlotte High School.

Besides the multi-sport Festival in Charlotte County, more than 300 athletes will compete in three Championships to be held in other Florida locations this weekend. The Long Center in Clearwater is the site of the Sunshine State Games Fencing Championships, the Highlands Recreation Center in Largo hosts the SSG Powerlifting Championships, and the Simpson Park Recreation Center in Lakeland is the host of SSG Table Tennis Championships.

This weekend is the third weekend of competitions during the month of June and the fourth weekend in the last five to host SSG events. Since February, over 6,000 athletes have competed in 12 sports held in eight different Florida communities

The highlight of the weekend will be at the 2018 SSG Track and Field Championships Sunday, when Dr. Brian Hickey, a sports management professor from Florida A&M University, receives his 2017 Sunshine State Games Male Athlete of the Year Award. Hickey has won medals in a Florida Sports Foundation amateur sports event for 16 consecutive years dating back to 2002, in the 400, 800, 1500 and 3000 meter runs. He began his streak in the 30+ Masters Age Group and most recently has competed in the 45+ Masters Age Group.

In 2011, when no Sunshine State Games Masters Track & Field was contested, Hickey (pictured below) won a gold medal in the all ages 5K Road Race in the Florida Senior Games in Lakeland to keep his streak alive.

“I always put it on my calendar,” he said after returning home to Florida after a week of high altitude training in Colorado. “I’ve got to keep going to these events to make sure the event keeps going. Winning these medals is something that also keeps me going. I’ve had some pretty crazy adventures along the way in an effort to get to the competitions at different locations around the state.”

Among the nearly 250 taekwondo athletes competing at Charlotte High School is 15-year-old Annagrace Brackin, of Tampa, who won three gold medals in 2017. Brackin returns to the Sunshine State Games for the sixth consecutive year, dating back to 2013.

Also registered to compete is Tim Steger, of North Port, who holds a 5th Dan Black Belt and was a member of the 2010 U. S. National Taekwondo Poomsae Team. The 5th Dan ranking can be reached after five years of study with a black belt. Steger will compete in the Individual Black Belt Poomsae events on Saturday.

The SSG Fencing Championships, in Clearwater, once again welcomes an old friend of the event, Wayne Frey, a 52-year old fencer from Monticello, and his daughter Claire. Wayne will fence in a two foil and epee events and Claire will compete in two epee events.

The Frey family has been appearing in the Sunshine State Games since 2002, when Claire was an eight-year old fencer. Over the years, Wayne’s two other daughters, Nicole and Rachel, have also competed in the Games.

We are pleased and honored to continue our partnership with the Florida Sports Foundation and host events of the Sunshine State Games in Pinellas County,” said Tim Ramsberger, the Chief Operating Officer of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. “What a unique opportunity to bring an event such as Fencing to the Long Center in Clearwater and expose the community to this type of activity, which is an Olympic sport.”

The online registration deadline has been extended for the SSG Table Tennis Championships to Wednesday evening, June 13 at 11:59 p.m. The 2018 Championships will be held at the Simpson Park Recreation Center on Saturday and Sunday with athletes competing in 15 different divisions of various skill levels. The SSG Table Tennis Championships will serve as a qualifier for the 2018 Florida Senior Games for athletes age 50 and over.

Schedule of SSG Events – June 16-17
Saturday, June 16
8:00 a.m. – Fencing, The Long Center, Clearwater
9:00 a.m. – Powerlifting, Highland Recreation Center, Largo
9:00 a.m. – Table Tennis, Simpson Park Recreation Center, Lakeland
9:00 a.m. – Track & Field, Charlotte High School
10:00 a.m. – Judo, Charlotte High School
10:30 a.m. – Taekwondo, Charlotte High School

Sunday, June 17
8:00 a.m. – Fencing, The Long Center, Clearwater
9:00 a.m. – Track & Field, Charlotte High School
9:00 a.m. – Table Tennis, Simpson Park Recreation Center, Lakeland
10:00 a.m. – Taekwondo, Charlotte High School

Below is a list of upcoming Sunshine State Games Events during the Months of June and July
For competition and registration information visit www.sunshinestategames.com

June 22-24, 2018
Sunshine State Games Water Polo Championships
Coral Springs and Pompano Beach, Florida
Online Registration Deadline is Friday, June 15

June 30-July 1, 2018
Sunshine State Games Badminton Championships
Shula’s Athletic Club, Miami Lakes, Florida

July 20-22, 2018
Sunshine State Games Boxing Championships
Joseph C. Carter Park, Fort Lauderdale
The 39th Annual Sunshine State Games, the State of Florida’s only Olympic-style Sports Festival, is presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, and a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The events of this weekend are held in conjunction with Punta Gorda Englewood Beach, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and Polk County Sports Marketing.

The Sunshine State Games, an annual amateur sports tradition in Florida, is part of the state’s $57.4 billion sports industry that accounts for 580,000 jobs statewide.

A look back at previous weekend’s events……
• With over 100 swimmers competing in the 2018 SSG Swimming Championships, the Gator Swim Club ran away with the Team Points Championship with 1757 points. The top Individual Scorers were Ethan Bafala, of the Episcopal Amberjax team with 81 points in the 10 and Under Boys age group. Also with 81 points was, Sydney Kang, of the Gator Swim Club in the 13-14 year old girls age group.

• Kang, now 13, has been swimming in the Sunshine State Games since 2013, when she was seven-years old. She was the SSG 10 and Under Girls Age Group High Point Award winner in 2015.

• Paul Smith, of Bradenton, won the Robert L. Murphy Spirit Award at the 2018 SSG Weightlifting Championships. The award is named after the late SSG weightlifter and is awarded to an athlete who best personifies the charisma, fight and never say die attitude of Murphy. He combined to lift 295k (650 lbs.), the most of all athletes. He had the best snatch lift of 140k (308 lbs.) and a 155k (342 lbs.) clean and jerk.

• Besides the 250 individual Synchronized Swimmers in the water at the Gandy Pool vying for medals, 16 teams were in competition for the Mary Rose High Point Award Trophy for Novice, Intermediate and Junior Olympic Divisions.

• Three coaches happily found themselves being thrown in the pool fully clothed after receiving the award as is customary. The 2018 winners were; Novice Division – Hialeah Stormettes, Intermediate Division – Miramar Mermaids and Junior Olympic Division – Tampa YMCA Synchro. The Miramar Mermaids won the High Point Trophy for the Novice Division in 2016 and 2017.

• After winning a 2016 Paralympic Gold Medal, Andres Shelby, of Jacksonville earned a pair of Sunshine State Games medals at the Easton Newberry Archery Complex. Shelby had an overall high score in the weather shortened 900 Freestyle Round on Sunday, with a score of 769 of a possible 780 (in Senior Men’s Freestyle). Shelby and James Harden, of Ocala, matched 769 scores and Shelby won the gold medal with 40 bulls eyes to Harden’s 39.

• Shelby also set a 50+ Age Group Male Freestyle record in the 720 round on Saturday with a score of 682. Ryan McDonald, of Sarasota, had the overall high 720 round score on Saturday with a 690, to win a gold medal in the Adult Male Freestyle Division.

• Saturday’s rounds at Easton Newberry and Gator Bowmen had 130 total shooters and Sunday’s events had 151 total shooters.