Dwight to resume role as multi-sport athlete in 2011 Iowa Games

Zach Gourley

With the 2011 Iowa Games set to begin July 9, former University of Iowa football star Tim Dwight has issued a challenge to competitors.

Dwight is challenging Iowans to best him in events of their choosing. He will be competing in 25 different events during the 2011 Games in honor of the Iowa Games’ 25th anniversary.

“I picked the events that I was somewhat familiar with,” Dwight said. “I kind of just looked at the events I thought I could finish and not look like too much of an idiot out there. I’m sure in table tennis, [they’re] going to eat my lunch.”

Iowa Games Executive Director Jim Hallihan was the first to approach Dwight with the idea. 
Hallihan came up with the promotional concept while attending the annual meeting of the National Congress of State Games, which is made up of 35 states.

“There are a few states that have had their 25th anniversary already, like New York, Montana and Nebraska,” Hallihan said. “We just talked to them and asked what they did on their 25th and found out what worked for them.”

Hallihan found that in 2009, a man named Dave Sutko had competed in 25 events at the Cornhusker State Games in Nebraska.

“I really liked that idea and I thought it would be cool to get a high-profile athlete in Iowa, someone that everybody knows, that would be willing to try this, so I called Tim,” Hallihan said. “He’s probably one of the greatest athletes that’s ever played in Iowa. The guy is phenomenal in what he has accomplished, and he’s just a little guy. I’d bet he’s only 5-foot-8.”

Dwight, who will turn 36 next week, ended his Hawkeye career as the top punt returner in Big Ten history (returning punts for a distance 1,102 yards) and the all-time leader in punt returns for touchdowns (5).

Dwight also scored 21 receiving touchdowns as a Hawkeye, a school record that has not been exceeded through the years.

Off the football field, Dwight won the 1999 Big Ten Championship in the 100-meter dash and was a member of three different Big Ten Championship relay teams during his collegiate tenure.

The Iowa City native also spent 10 seasons in the NFL, seeing most of his action as a kick and punt returner.

Dwight hopes his involvement will help spark an interest in the games among Iowans.

“Just because you graduate from high school or go on to college sports and graduate from that and get out of that traditional competitive realm, I think it’s still important to keep that in your lifestyle,” Dwight said. “That’s something that we’re not really doing in our country.”

More than 20,000 Iowans of all ages and ability levels are expected to compete in the 54 events that comprise the Iowa Games this year.

Though the first competitions will begin this Saturday, the opening ceremony will be held July 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Jack Trice Stadium.

West Des Moines native and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson will headline the opening ceremonies.