Masterful moments the success story of Pan Pacific Games
FOUR nonagenarians with a combined age of 365 set a Pan Pacific Masters Games 50m freestyle relay record of 5:18:54 at the 11th biennial Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast last month.
It's just one of the memorable moments from a Games which organisers have rated the biggest and most successful in the Pan Pac's 20-year history.
The numbers are impressive, with about 16,000 people from 40 countries taking part in 42 sports at 45 venues over 10 days.
But it's the stories that really stood out, like Gold Coaster Don Robertson (93) who swam his way through 10 events, including teaming up with the Sunshine Coast's Patricia Wornall (91), fellow 91-year-old Marion Beulke from Victoria and 90-year-old China Johnson to set their 360-399 division record and of course take gold.
After the race, Patricia was already looking to their return in two years time.
"We're actually getting younger every day," Patricia enthused. "It feels terrific."
New South Wales athlete Heather Lee, who turned 92 at the Games was another talking point, breaking the world record in the 10km road race walk on the final day of competition, clocking 84 minutes 21 seconds for the women's 90-years and over.
"I love coming here to compete at the Pan Pacific Masters Games because I'm not defined by my age - I am just one of the competitors regardless of being 91," she said.
It completed a golden hat-trick for Heather, adding to wins in the 5000m and 3000m walks, and she was congratulated by Games ambassador and athletics legend Glynis Nunn-Cearns, 57.
The oldest competitor at the Games was 93-year-old Redlands indoor rower Vince Home, accompanied by his 87-year-old wife of 68 years and fellow indoor rower Beryl.
Both won gold in their age-groups and said they had been playing sport all their lives.
"Sport has always been a part of our family - our eldest son played baseball for Australia for over 10 years, our other son plays cricket and does rowing, and our daughter is the CEO of Softball Queensland," Beryl said.
The couple, introduced to indoor rowing six years ago, both believe the sport has kept them young.
"It's not about chasing records but giving it a go," Beryl said.
"We've met such nice people here and we watch them all compete too."
But perhaps 54-year-old fitness challenger Cherise Walmsley's comments about her event best summed up the spirit of the Games.
"You cheer on the person coming first all the way to last. Every achievement is different but all get the same celebration."
So, if you want to be part of the action, you have two years in which to pick your sport and get active.