Seniors get active for games

Valley senior Joan Galbraith is wanting to encourage local seniors to start preparing for next year’s BC Senior Games.

Joan and Art Galbraith proudly wearing their BC Senior Games uniforms with their grandson Art Galbraith on the family farm in Spillimacheen in 1988 (above) and again in 2009 (below)

Valley senior Joan Galbraith is wanting to encourage local seniors to start preparing for next year’s BC Senior Games that will be hosted by Kamloops from August 20 to 24. Galbraith was one of the first 640 seniors to participate in the first-ever BC Senior Games back in 1988 in Vernon, and has since competed many times, winning multiple medals in table tennis, carpet bowling and floor curling.

“It’s a great adventure; once you’re retired and you’re looking for something to do, this is really exciting,” Galbraith said. “A lot of people think they can’t do it.”

This year was the 25th anniversary of the games, which took place in Burnaby from August 21 to 25, but Galbraith and her husband Art, who is 91, don’t own a car nor do they drive so they gave the 2012 games a miss as the distance to the Lower Mainland proved to be too challenging.

“For two years now, we haven’t had the Rockies bus with the volunteer driver,” she said.

But Galbraith plans to participate again now that she’s learned a bus will be chartered to transport local seniors to Kamloops next  year, and she would like to see an overwhelming number of seniors from the Columbia Valley get involved as well.

“I really enjoyed it and I’d like other people to think that they’re not finished,” she said. “When you’re old you think, ‘Oh I’m old and finished,’ but you’re not; you have a lot to give.”

The valley is part of Zone 7, the BC Senior Games Society for the East Kootenay. Local seniors must compete with the rest of the East Kootenay zone in order to qualify, and any interested should contact area rep Ray Neratko at 250-342-9701 or by email at rapidray2@msn.com.

“Try out for it, try,” Galbraith said. “You just have to be a resident of B.C. and you have to be 55 and up.”

Nor do you have to belong to a seniors’ organization, she added.

The 25th annual BC Senior Games may have taken place back in August but it’s never too late to recognize the local seniors who made the trek to the Lower Mainland to compete.

Not only did they compete, but our Columbia Valley participants fared extremely well in the Silver Jubilee event that attracted 4,000 senior athletes from across the province, and two local individuals in particular were recognized for their longevity in sports.

Nellie Hrdlicka from Invermere has in fact participated all 25 years and was formally recognized at this year’s games with a special presentation for her longterm dedication and involvement. She also competed in a bridge event with her bridge partner Fran Jeffries and placed fourth.

A gold medal went to Ed Kluczny from Invermere in the 5,000 metre power walk in the Men 90+ division. Kluczny, who turns 91 on November 14, was awarded first place as he was the only one in his age category, which — at his age — is an accomplishment in itself.

This isn’t is his first medal. In fact, Kluczny has about 39 BC Senior Games medals displayed on a board in his home at Columbia Garden Village. Not all of them are gold, but he earned them all in power walk events, either the 5,000 metre or the 10,000 metre. Because his back is giving him problems, he was only able to compete in the 5,000 m event this year, but hopes he will be ready to take on both distances again next.

“I’m not planning on retirement (from the games),” he said, laughing. “Five kilometres isn’t much for me to do.”

It’s the same distance as what he used to walk to school when he was younger, one way, Kluczny added.

The complete results for senior athletes from Columbia Valley in the 2012 BC Senior Games is as follows: Ed Kluczny from Invermere  won gold in the 5,000 metre power walk in the Men 90+ category; bridge partners Nellie Hrdlicka and Fran Jeffery from Invermere placed fourth in bridge in the Men and Women 55+ Duplicate – 0 to 300 Master Points event; the team of Herta Tacha (Radium), Myrtle Holden (Invermere), Bess Spark (Radium) and Arnold Wassing (Radium) placed sixth in carpet bowling in the Men and Women 55+ 1 Team of 3 category; and the team of Aly and Kathy Mederer (Radium) and Margaret Hodson (Radium) placed seventh in carpet bowling in the Men and Women 55+ 1 Pair category.

For more information on the games, visit www.bcseniorsgames.org