Amateur athletes to compete in Sunshine State Games this weekend

Debra Fine
Sunshine State GamesFlorida Sports Foundation

The Sunshine State Games are coming to Clay County this weekend. Amateur athletes will compete in several sporting events, including pickleball, archery, and canoe/kayaking marathons.

The Sunshine games is Florida’s largest and longest standing multi-sport festival. The mission is to provide quality competition for Florida’s amateur athletes of all ages and skill levels. Since the games began in 1980, many participants have gone on to compete in the Olympics. The games also serve as a qualifier for the State Games of America, held every odd numbered year.

Athletes aren’t just competing individually, many work as a part of a team. The events begin Friday with pickleball at the Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park in Green Cove Springs.

“I thoroughly enjoy playing with my partner,” says Enrique Cruz, who is competing in pickleball for the first time. “She is a very consistent and talented player. Aside from that, she is a joy to be around, always motivated and supported. Being a part of her team is a privilege.”

Friday through Sunday, Ultimate Mixed Division will be held at the Plantation Sports Complex in Fleming Island. Canoe/Kayak Sprints will be held Saturday-Sunday at the Middleburg boat ramp in Middleburg.

Mark Nye will be helping run the Canoe/Kayak Sprints on Saturday and will be competing in the Canoe/Kayak Marathon on Sunday. This will be his 4th year competing in the Marathon. He is also the vice president of the Florida Competition Paddlers Association.

“We are a non-profit that was established in 1976 to coordinate and promote paddle sport racing in Florida, and host about 15 recreational races each year across the state,” says Nye. “Due to our expertise in paddle sports, Sunshine Games has asked us to be sport coordinators for the canoe/kayak events. I think activities, like the Sunshine Games, are important because they encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.

For information on all the events and locations visit:

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I have been a journalist for almost 20 years. My experience includes producing television news, writing news paper articles and web articles, and writing for social media.

Jacksonville, FL

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