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Hundreds of athletes are in Springfield this weekend to compete in the Missouri Winter Games. Michele Skalicky has more.
The Springfield Expo Center was a busy place this morning as workers set up gymnastics equipment for a competition that gets underway tonight and runs thru Sunday. It's part of the Missouri Winter Games, now in its 3rd year in Springfield. Kathryn Bartee is Commissioner of Gymnastics for the Games.
"The MO Winter Games were founded in 2005 by Jeff Collins, and the point of the games is to bring athletes from all over the nation to Springfield to showcase what Springfield has, and to let the people of Springfield see what wonderful athletes we have in the region and round the nation."
Competitors come from 10 states to compete in a variety of sports. This weekend will feature not only gymnastics but also table tennis, a winter run, bowling, racquetball, wrestling, lacrosse, swimming and diving in several venues around Springfield.
More than 700 gymnasts ranging in age from 6 to 19 are expected to compete at the Expo Center tonight thru Sunday.
"Most of the older ones go to national competitions with USA Gymnastics, very talented athletes, and quite a few will go on to compete in college."
Because the MO Winter Games bring in so many visitors, Bartee says they have a significant impact on Springfield's economy.
"In 2006, we had about 1500 competitors, 11 different sports, booked about 150 rooms, and then you have to count on all of the shopping and the dining. In 2007, we were up to 1700 athletes, 13 sports, 225 rooms. In 2008, we already have 2200 athletes, 15 sports, and we've already booked 600 rooms."
To find out more about the Missouri Winter Games, go to mowintergames.org.
For KSMU News, I'm Michele Skalicky.