Other than their event ID, there’s no tell-tale sign that makes B.C. Seniors Games participants stand out.
Unless you consider youthful exuberance a defining characteristic, they’re all shapes and sizes, varying in age from 55 on.
There are newbies mixed with returning competitors, some committed to a life of physical fitness against others with no practice, many returning to the same event and others trying something new.
As diverse as the players are, so are their reasons for being there and having the chance to hear some of them made for a great break from the newsroom.
Up at Hillside Stadium, Leonar Davidson said she had experience in track and field, but not in decades.
Life and children sidelined those activities but the Metchosin athlete was excited to compete Wednesday for the first time in 40 years.
Her son took the day off and brought the grandchildren from Vernon to cheer on the 66-year-old in the 100-metres.
“The grandchildren wonder if I will cry if I don’t win,” said
Davidson. “I figure I’ll cry if I do win.”
Also competing in the 100m was long-time Games participant Hildegard Buschhaus.
The 85-year-old has challenged herself in the Games for 18 years with the support of her husband of 62 years, Gunter.
“I’m the gofer,” he said. “If she needs shoes or a coat — sometimes it rains — I get it.”
With competing priorities like a large garden, she says she doesn’t train much but keeps coming back because having a goal motivates her to stay fit.
Speaking of fit, Al Percival, 61, was pumped to be at the track for his third Games.
“As a kid, I used to sprint and thought once I retired, let’s get in shape.”
He joined a track club in the Fraser Valley, lost 30 pounds and is devoted to improving his times, as he did Wednesday, setting a record in the 60-65 men’s 100m.
He admits being a senior athlete has its challenges (“We all have aches and pains and don’t recover that quickly”), but says the joy of participating, socializing and staying active makes any discomfort worth it.
That, and trying to impress the girls.
“Wanna see my pecs and my six-pack?” he asked.
Things were a little more low-key down at the tennis courts, where it wasn’t immediately obvious if they were competitors or just folks enjoying a set — their Games badges get in the way so they don’t wear them.
Married couple Anne and Des Burke of Vancouver relaxed after competing in mixed doubles.
It was Anne’s first time and the second year for Des, with his first Games effort in crib. His shift in events was prompted by Anne’s refusal to watch him play cards along with her promise to give tennis a crack.
Despite not picking up a racket in five years, she’s having a great time and encourages anyone wondering if the Games might be for them to “just get out and enjoy it and try it.”
It’s encouraging to encounter an event that appeals to a variety of skill levels, challenges the mind or body, is fun and family oriented, fosters camaraderie and offers participants a sense of pride in achieving their goals.
Tick off another decade and count me in.
Tracy Gilchrist is city editor at The Daily News (email@example.com)