Ladysmith area well represented at Seniors’ Games

Local seniors flock to Trail for annual Seniors Games

Karen and Vern Shook

Karen and Vern Shook

The Ladysmith and Chemainus area was well represented at the 2011 BC Seniors Games by a host of local talent.

The Seniors’ Games, held August 16-20 in Trail this year, is an annual event that brings together residents ages 55+ together for a plethora of sports that test both physical and mental strength.

Nola Hendrie, of Chemainus, who participates in track and field events with her husband Tim, likened the games to a school sports day.

“Everybody supports one another and it doesn’t matter whether you’re at the beginning stage, everybody’s great, and it’s always inspiring to see the ones who are over 90 breaking records and how well people do up to quite an advanced age,” she said. “I find the competition as you get older, like the over 70s, they’re incredible but there’s not so much competition at my age (56) because a lot of people don’t know about it.”

Nola brought home three gold medals in the 55-59 age categories in high jump, long jump and 100 metre track. She also placed silver in discus, weight pentathalon, while Tim, 60, earned a silver in the pentathalon and bronze in 800 metre track.

Nola said she is far from a star athlete but hopes to keep progressing her track and field training.

“I participate and have fun,” she said.

Ladysmith resident Carol Wheat competed in team bowling alongside residents David and Joyce Mitchell, and garnered three silver medals in the individual 5-pin-bowl category.

Wheat has been bowling for about 25-30 years and keeps up her game by practicing twice a week.

“It gets me out and I meet different people,” she said. “A lot of the people I bowl with are my friends.”

Eulah Varty, of Chemainus, is a competitive swimmer who has participated in the Seniors Games for nearly two decades. Varty came home with six medals from this year’s Games, in the 50m Butterfly, 50m Breaststroke, 400m Freestyle, 800m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke and 100m Individual Medley.

In the last eight months, Varty has participated in nine swim meets. Her competitions have drawn her to places like Australia, Oregon, Montreal and California. In October, she will be heading to Utah for another swim meet.

When asked why she competes, Eulah’s answer is simple.

“Why not?” she remarks. “I’ve always done sports, I’ve played golf, everything, and now I just do the swimming, mostly.”

For track sprint veterans Vern and Karen Shook, of Chemainus, the Seniors Games are a refreshing change from the meets they usually compete at, where the competition is not limited by age.

“That’s the special part about the seniors games… we don’t have to worry about looking so slow alongside the kids,” said Vern, 69. “We don’t miss a year, we’ve been going to them for 10 years or so now.”

Shook’s 31-second sprint in the 200m category garnered him a silver medal finish. By comparison, 25-year-old Usain Bolt, of Jamaica, currently holds the world record for 200m, at 19.19 seconds.

“I ran a good race… I like to think I could have done better,” Shook said.

In July, the Shooks participated in the World Masters down in Sacremento, where many ex-olympians and Olympians compete. To prepare for competition, Vern and Karen work out about six times a week.

“Running is the most primally perfect thing a person can do, especially running fast,” Vern said. “We run for the fun of running and sometimes a good training workout is just as invigorating and fun as a good track meet.”

Other local representatives at the Seniors Games included gold medal curlers Shirley Sloan and Joanne Phillips, soccer team silver medalist Lloyd Dye, silver medal golfer Morris Jensen and Bert Davis, a gold and silver medalist in darts.