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Wasn’t That The Most Fun Ever?

“Four gold medals. Wow!” I exclaimed.

The gentleman, sitting taking a break in the Art Hauser Centre after two full days of track and field events, smiled and replied, “Yes the games have been good to me.”

He was proud, but not at all presumptuous, as he explained that he had won two of the gold in field events, and the other two on the track in the sprints.

A few minutes later, I sat down to talk with another competitor as she waited to register for the upcoming Canada Games that were to follow these Saskatchewan Games.

Having also won four gold medals – long jump, triple jump, 50 metre dash, and the hundred metre dash – she was obviously going to be a strong Saskatchewan representative.

I later met a couple, man and wife, who achieved gold in one of the pairs events. The smiles on their faces told the whole story.

Yes and there were many more such stories that highlighted the meaning and the essence of these games.  Over 500 competitors, accompanied by family members and avid supporters, had come to either participate or cheer during ten events – several of which often took place in the rain. 

That rain challenged all – competitors – fans – and 134 local volunteers – but it did not dampen the spirit or the meaning of the games. People simply dug in and did their thing.

“It’s a common thought that senior citizens are frail and weak, moving slowly, often with canes or walkers. This group of people have had their day ... Oops!”

This quote speaks to the ‘raison d’etre’ of the games. The quotation is from a short story submitted by Linda Brown of Regina, a competitor in the ‘Poetry and Short Story’ event at the Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association (SSFA) Games held here in Prince Albert the 14th, 15th and 16th of this past month. 

That 87 year old man, Joseph Koza of Imperial Saskatchewan, with his four golds,  and 88 year old Gwendoline Boivin, of Moose Jaw, with her four golds, certainly highlight that ‘Oops’ of which Linda Brown writes. 

There were plenty of  ‘Oops’ in what happened here in Prince Albert. There was competition, determination to win, hard work, excellent performances, and alas a few injuries; but it was all mixed with laughs, tears, and heartfelt fellowship. 

It was truly heartwarming to watch.

 

These games were unique, not just for the ages of the competitors, 55+ and in a few cases 90+, not just for the type of events included – Cribbage, Kaiser, Poetry and Short Story writing, 8 Ball Pool,  along with Bowling, Golf, Slo Pitch, Swimming, Track and Field, and Pickle Ball,  but also for the length of time needed to complete the planning, organizing and carrying out of the games – TWO YEARS.

Yes, two years! The games had been set for the summer of 2020. All preparations were in place, the competitors were registered, the facilities booked and ready – and bam – COVID hit. The organizing committee took a deep breath and  readied for 2021 – again Covid quashed all. But the committee didn’t quit – they went to work once more – 2022 – they were rewarded with a roaring success despite weather challenges. Persistence paid off – the fun and games finally happened.

WAY TO GO EVERYBODY!   

As I watched, and I mean watched, the events, I sat in amazement at what transpired. One man in the over 70’s category, sprinted, and I mean sprinted, the 400 metre race in ‘one minute and 21 seconds!’ 

Go ahead try it and you will acknowledge the wonder of that feat.

However, it was not just the physical reality that I observed, but it was the fellowship, the friendship, the caring, that truly got to me. 

 88 year old Gwendoline Boivin, as she crossed the finish line in the 100 metre race, threw up her hands in celebration, whirled and threw them higher to see her challenger finish too – the two wrapped their arms around one another and stood like that for several seconds.

How do I sum up those remarkable three days?

Perhaps a comment hollered to me by a neighbourhood friend, whose team had lost in the hard fought Gold Medal final of Slo Pitch, sums it up the best when she looked back at all that had transpired:

 

“WASN’T THAT THE MOST FUN EVER!”

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Wednesday March 13, 2024