Olympic gymnasts Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci have teamed with The Oklahoman to provide three days of sports, health and wellness events that are challenging and family-friendly.
Visitors to The Bart and Nadia Sports and Health Festival, Friday through Sunday at Cox Convention Center, can get free health screenings and participate in activities such as indoor rowing, archery and sitting volleyball.
The featured event is the Nadia Comaneci International Invitational at 7 p.m. Saturday. Competitors will include elite gymnasts from Romania, Israel, China, Japan, Great Britain and the United States. Tickets for the invitational are $10 per day and $15 for a weekend pass.
Also featured will be the Bart Conner International Invitational, a boys gymnastic event Friday evening and all day Saturday, and Perfect 10 Challenge, a women's collegiate gymnastics competition featuring the University of Oklahoma, Iowa State University and Southeast Missouri State University. The Perfect 10 event is Friday night.
Also Saturday will be an Oklahoma City RIVERSPORT's indoor kayak and rowing challenge and a fun run through the underground concourse downtown. Called RUNderground, the run is in its second year; participants must register in advance for the untimed run.
Other sporting events will include a 2012 London Paralympic Games Powerlifting Qualifier, a USA Archery Indoor Oklahoma State Championship and a Team USA Sitting Volleyball Scrimmage.
For now, Connor said he and his wife, Comaneci, would like to see the festival continue to build on its successes.
“We want to set an example of what you can aspire to because you make health, wellness and fitness a priority,” he said. “What we'd like to do is to continue to build. We started out with a gymnastics event. Now, we've taken on a bigger mandate. We want to expand on this and do something more substantial. We would like to add more dates, more youth sports, continue to grow along the lines where we are.”
The Bart and Nadia Sports and Health Festival is one way that Conner said Oklahoma is beginning to change its identity from a state with rampant obesity, heart disease and diabetes to a place where people make good health and fitness a part of their daily lives.
“We need to rebrand Oklahoma as a place that cares about health and sports. I think if we continue along this trend, we will give Oklahoma families that aspirational element. It's one of those situations that if we set the bar high enough, people will join us.”
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