By Shelley Goertzen, Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association
I had the pleasure of attending the Americas Masters Games in Vancouver from August 26 to September 4 this year. This was the inaugural year for the Americas Masters, which is a subset of the World Masters Games, held every four years since 1985.
And it was a great success! Thousands of athletes came from all over North and South America, as well as from Europe and Asia, to compete in one of 24 sports. Age categories run from 30-over all the way up to the age category of 100+ in Athletics.
The Games kicked off in a big way, with opening ceremonies at Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver. Opening ceremonies included a welcome by local celebrities and dignitaries and First Nations dancers, all capped off by the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron. What a way to welcome everyone to beautiful British Columbia.
The parade of athletes gave us a chance to meet athletes from everywhere and every sport. Think of it as like a mini-Olympics but with age categories. And probably with a more liberal party atmosphere, I doubt there was a beer tent for the athletes in Rio.
I competed at the Games in Women’s Over 50 soccer, with the Goal Sisters, a team that I had played with prior to moving to Parksville from Ottawa. There were five teams in our division, including teams from California, Washington state, B.C. and Ottawa.
We had met one of the teams, the West Coast Winos, when we played in the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy, in 2013. With five teams in the division, we were guaranteed four games, playing every other team once. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the back of the net often enough and we lost the bronze medal game to the WC Winos.
I enjoy competing in Masters Games because of the diversity of sports presented and the enthusiasm of the participants. The soccer matches were all held at UBC, and when we weren’t playing we could go watch archery, field hockey and track and field events for all age categories. Then, after the competition, we compare injuries and successes (and losses) in the athlete’s recovery zone (aka the beer tent). The next Masters Games are the Worlds, to be held in Auckland, New Zealand in April 2017.
For more information, visit http://www.pgosa.org