WINTER HAVEN - The opening ceremony of the 27th Annual Polk Senior Games took place Saturday, Feb. 23.

Around 700 volunteers will be organizing 2,450 seniors competing in 100 events spanning 40 sports and games through March 11. Seventy-six athletes competed on the track at All Saints Academy Saturday morning to christen this year’s games.

Polk Senior Games President Ron Schultz introduced 2018 Women’s Outstanding Athlete Claudette Braswell and Gail Nolen, the widow of 2018 Men’s Outstanding Athlete Don Nolen, as the torch bearers.

At age 102, Arlan Meade is the Game’s most senior athlete.

Once the competition began, Leslie Bennett, 75, of Fort Lauderdale, broke the Games’ 800-meter record, finishing in under three minutes.

“I’m also running the 400 (meters),” Bennett said. “I’m going to break that record, too.”

Bennett later did just that.

Others who broke records on Saturday included Jodie Brown (track), Eberle Funches and Yvette Fox (powerlifting). Overall, 48 records were broken in track and powerlifting Saturday.

The Games are founded by gold sponsor Publix Supermarkets Charities. This year’s silver sponsor is Homer and Annette Thompson Legacy; the bronze sponsors are The James W Sikes Family, CPS Investment Advisors, Heart of Florida Hospital, Julie and Chip Watkins and Best Value Healthcare Plus Humana.

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