2010 Empire State Games Opening Ceremonies

July 21, 2010 Updated Jul 21, 2010 at 11:38 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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July 21, 2010 Updated Jul 21, 2010 at 11:38 PM EDT

Athletes have come from all over the state to compete in the 32nd Empire State Games in Buffalo.

"It gives the athletes a feeling of competition of people that they're not used to competing against. It gets them outside of their comfort zone and makes them push themselves further because they're not just competing against western New York athletes or southern athletes, all of a sudden it's people from all over the state," said Steve Mesler, Olympic gold medal winner in the men's bobsled competition in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Mesler, a former Empire State Game athlete himself, knows the value of competition. But last year, lack of money forced the state to cancel the games. Thanks to sponsorship from First Niagara bank and other local businesses the games are back on, giving athletes hope for the future.

After winning three gold medals for track in the 2005 and 2007 Empire Games, Sarah Mosser received a full scholarship for college.

"For me the games have allowed me to move on into college and continue my sport. I couldn't be more thankful," said Mosser.

Eric Harkins is hoping for a similar success story for his 16-year-old son, a pitcher competing in baseball in this year's Empire Games.

"This gives an opportunity for a lot of different coaches to see his talent and all the kids' talent as well," said Harkins.

It's been a long road for the torch, beating the odds and ultimately making its way to Buffalo tonight, as athletes and fans watch the lighting of the cauldron.

The anticipation is building for the four day Olympic style competitions, but for now athletes get a chance to shake off their jitters while rocking out to Third Eye Blind.