Seniors from Ladysmith and Chemainus go for gold at BC Seniors Games

Local athletes brought home many medals in pole vaulting, track, table tennis and more.

Nola Hendrie of Chemainus launches herself over the bar in the women’s pole vault competition at the 2012 BC Seniors Games at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

Nola Hendrie of Chemainus launches herself over the bar in the women’s pole vault competition at the 2012 BC Seniors Games at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

Our seniors are not only setting the bar when it comes to staying fit and active — they’re jumping over it.

This year, Ladysmith and area was well represented at the 2012 BC Seniors Games by more than a dozen recreational and competitive athletes performing in everything from table tennis to hockey to pole vaulting.

Nola Hendrie, 57, has competed in track at the games for the last two years with her husband, Tim. This year, she decided to take up pole vaulting, and despite only two months training, inclement weather the day of her jump and being the only one in her category, Hendrie managed to clear the bar and win gold.

“It was my new thing and I really wanted to learn it, and I was pleased with how I did,” she said. “When I first learned to do it, it was pretty scary, but once I started doing it, it felt pretty good.”

Hendrie recalls watching her first BC Senior Games in 2005 in Duncan.

“I couldn’t wait to be 55 so I could compete in the games,” she said. “It’s like being at a sports day for four days; we all have so much fun, so much camaraderie, and everybody supports everybody.”

With 10 years of competing experience, Vern and Karen Shook consider themselves veterans of the BC Games. Aside from a few weeks’ break after the Games, the Shooks train five times a week year round.

“It’s probably the most primally perfect thing to do, is run; it’s what we’re evolved to do, and it’s what I love to do,” said Vern.

In addition to the Games, the Shooks also shake it up at masters competitions. Last year, the couple were in Sacremento. But when it comes to competition, there seems to be no place like home.

“It was a well-run track meet [this year], and I just happened to be at the low end of my age group, which is a very good place to be,” said Vern. “It gives a chance for a guy like me to shine a bit.”

He credits Doug Fraser, for helping him through this year’s training and encourages others to get involved with the Games.

“I’m sure that if more seniors knew it was out there they would join us,”  said Vern.

Jill Godkin and her husband Don have been playing tennis since they were 18 years old. Several decades later, the couple continues their teenage tradition, playing three to four times a week together.

“We love the sport,” Jill said. “It’s economical; you just need running shoes, a racket and a ball. You can play on public courts so it’s not a huge expense.”

She added that 90 per cent of their friends have been acquaintances made through playing tennis.

“You’re outside getting fresh air and exercise and you meet a lot of people,” she said.

The couple has participated in four Seniors Games so far.

“We make do with the skills we’ve got and just have fun; we both really enjoy it,” Jill said. “It’s always fun because you’re playing against different people from all over the province.”

Ken Holman and his wife Claudia burned up the table tennis court,  winning gold in their respective categories.

“We had a really good time; it was very interesting,” Holman said. “The competitive side, which Claudia and I competed in, was fiercely competitive. A lot of people take it quite seriously, especially the players from the lower mainland.”

Holman maintains the Vancouver Island Table Tennis Association website and practises in Chemainus and Nanaimo.

“To my knowledge, there’s no table tennis group in Ladysmith, but we would certainly love to get one going,” Holman said. “Table tennis has a pretty good following amongst the seniors on Vancouver Island.”

The BC Senior Games took place Aug. 21-25 in Burnaby.