Registration underway for multi-sport Sunshine State Games

Taekwondo is one of 25 sports that will be contested in the Sunshine State Games.
Photo courtesy Florida Sports Foundation

 Special to the Outlook

With a current roster of 25 sports, this year’s Sunshine State Games offers the most opportunities for amateur athletes in three years.

More than 7,000 athletes competed in 26 sports at the 2019 Games. Competition, which started with volleyball in February, will continue throughout the year. A full schedule is on the Games’ website.

Registration is now open for a majority of the sports that will be contested this year in Games, presented by Amazon. The calendar features 25 sports, with multi-sport events to held in four Florida communities at 22 facilities.

Athletes can register on line by going to www.sunshinestategames.com. Athletes can check the individual sports pages at the Sunshine State Games website, or find the “Register Now,” button on the top right corner of the page.

Now in its 43rd year of offering competition for Florida athletes of all ages, the Sunshine State Games has been a stepping-stone to national and international competitions for many of the competitors.

Here is a list of just some Florida-born athletes who have achieved greater levels of success since 1980, after getting their start in the Sunshine State Games.

Anquan Boldin, Basketball, Pahokee:  was a member of the gold medal winning 16-and-under City of Pahokee Team and Age Group MVP in the 1996 Sunshine State Games. After a collegiate career at Florida State, Boldin was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, had over 1,000 career receptions and was a member of the 2013 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.

 Jearl Miles-Clark, Gainesville, Track & Field:  was a member of the gold-medal winning Junior Women’s 4 X 100 meter relay team in the 1982 Sunshine State Games.  Earned a spot on Team USA and competed in the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.  She won 4 X 400 Relay gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Justin Gatlin, Pensacola, Track & Field:  was a gold medalist in the intermediate boys’ 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.42 in the 1998 Sunshine State Games.  He won a gold medal in the men’s 100 meters at the 2004 Olympic Games and a bronze medal in the London 2012 Games.

Nicole Haislett, St. Petersburg, Swimming: appeared in several Sunshine State Games competitions in the early 1980s, and was a standout swimmer at the University of Florida, where she was named Southeastern Conference Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994. Haislett won gold medals in the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle relays and 400-meter medley relay at the 1992 Olympics.

 Ashleigh Johnson, Water Polo, Redlands: is the 2016 and 2020 gold medal winning-Team USA Water Polo starting goalie.  Was a gold medalist with the Miami Riptides in the Open Women, U18, U16 and U14  division teams from 2003-2013.

Roy Jones Jr. , Pensacola, Boxing: a gold medal winner in the 1980 and 1982 Sunshine State Games and he went on to win to be a silver medal winner in the 1988 Olympic Games. He was the undisputed light heavyweight world champion and considered one of the most successful boxers of the 1990s.

Ryan Lochte, Swimming, Daytona Beach: Won a total of seven Sunshine State Games medals competing in the 1999 and 2001 Games and made his Olympic debut in Athens in 2004 and competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games. He is a 12-time Olympic medalist, making him the second-most decorated swimmer in history behind Michael Phelps.

Brian Olson, Judo, Woodville: Participated in Sunshine State Games judo from age 6 in 1981 and competed regularly until 1989.  Olson earned a spot on the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic judo team. His best Olympic finish came in 2000 when he placed seventh in Sydney and is one of the most recognized names in the judo world as an athlete and coach.

 Jennifer Rodriguez, Artistic Roller Skating, Miami: Before making four trips to the Winter Olympics in Speed Skating, Rodriguez honed her skills in the Artistic Roller Skating Championships, from 1983-1987 and 1990-1992.  She competed in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games winning bronze medals in the 1000 and 1500 meters in 2002.

David Ross, Baseball, Tallahassee: A member of a gold medal-winning baseball team and an honorary torch lighter at the 1993 Games in Tallahassee. After a college baseball career at Auburn University and the University of Florida, Ross had a 14-year major league baseball career, and won World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. He is currently in his third season as the manager of the Cubs.

Antonio Tarver, Boxing, Orlando: A silver medalist in the 1982 Sunshine State Games, Tarver won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. He became the world light heavyweight champion, winning it from Roy Jones in May, 2004 and retaining the title in September 2005. He played the nemesis of Rocky Balboa in the Rocky VI movie.

 The four Sunshine State Games Festival locations this year include Alachua County, with four sports, Broward County, with three sports, Clay County with five sports and Polk County, with four sports.


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