It was a whirlwind week of sport and games for a select group of NWT seniors, who headed south to Strathcona County, Alta. for the 2014 Canada 55+ Games.
From Aug. 27 to 30, 60 representatives made up Team NWT to compete in the national biennial event, which drew in over 2,000 athletes from across the country.
Even with a small team compared to some other provinces, the NWT fought and captured a total of 16 medals, including 10 gold, three silver and three bronze.
“We’re very pleased,” said Joan Hiron, director of the NWT team and representative of the territory on the tournament’s national board.
Hiron was one of the big winners of the weekend, nabbing four gold medals in her swimming events. Edna Woodward of Fort Smith also grabbed four medals for the team with two golds, one silver and one bronze in swimming. Chris Williams of Yellowknife captured three golds for swimming, totalling nine top medals for the sport.
Team NWT also took home medals for cycling, darts and bowling.
Hiron said there was some drama for Team NWT when an excess of curlers wanted to attend the games. However, disaster was averted when one group was “adopted” by Team Nunavut, which lacked a curling crew, and all of the interested parties were able to play.
Team NWT had participants playing in other tournament sports, including men’s hockey, tennis, cycling, bowling, golf, bridge, cribbage, darts and pool.
More than just games
Strathcona County also hosted a plethora of cultural events while the games were ongoing. Games-themed exhibits, a seniors health and wellness exhibition and a heritage sports display were open for players to check out in-between their events.
The opening and closing ceremonies were highlights of the games’ cultural component, offering a chance for players to meet with other like-minded people from across the country, Hiron said. The players mixed and mingled as they marched through a parade that kicked off the tournament before sitting down to enjoy a performance by a local seniors gymnastics group, the Roving Circus Performers.
The audience was equally as entertained by a comedian who closed out the tournament, after eating what Hiron described as the most “delicious meal,” especially after working up an appetite over four days of active competition.
While the competitions were fun, Hiron said there were ultimately more benefits for the players than just winning medals.
“It’s important for people as they get older to keep active,” she said. “It keeps them healthier and happier and events like this give an opportunity to meet other people from all across Canada with the same interests and it’s fun.”