Harper's Newsletter

Masters Netball and Indoor Rowing golds

There has never a better example for the quote “you are as young as you feel” than at the Pan Pacific Masters Games.

There was no rest for a Guide Dog when you have the job of working with Lindy! Lindy and I just spent a week on the Gold Coast for the Masters Games and now we have to prepare for a trip to Sydney. Then again, I really should not complain after seeing many of the masters competitors much older than me who played their hearts out on the sporting fields during the day then danced hard in the evenings.

The full report of my week at the Masters Games is below and for those Sydneysiders, be sure to come to the Glebe Street Fair this coming Sunday (18th November).

Magic Paws help Win Gold in Masters Netball

Lindy and I just spent a week on the Gold Coast looking after the Canberra Classic Netball Team. Lindy massaged the netball ladies while I lay around and got lots of pats. Psychologists have long recognized that humans get lots of positive benefits from patting a dog. The known benefits are reduced blood pressure, relaxing one’s mind and revitalizing oneself. In the case of petting Guide Dog Harper, there are additional benefits such as repairing muscles and reinforcing positive attitude. Well, maybe I am stretching the truth about the part I played in the team winning the Gold medal!

Di, the team coach got the netball team into the pool for water recovery while Lindy had them on the massage table to get rid of any problem spots. Their combined efforts ensured the team got to the Gold medal game in better shape than their opposition.

The Classic Ladies competed in the 60+ Division. The average age of the team was 66 and the most senior member of the team will turn 74 next month. The way those ladies played, you would never think any of them were over 50!!.

There were many comments from younger players such as
“no way, they can’t possibly be over 60”
“they sure can move”
“my mum should be playing in this”

The Classic ladies formed the team 21 years ago and have played in a Masters competition every year since then. Their skills and spirits have certainly won them lots of admiration from all the other teams.

Apart from Netball, there were 47 other sports participating in this 8th Pan Pacific Masters Games with a record 12,200 competitors. The oldest competitor was 91! I will only be 84 years old (12 doggie years) by the next games in 2014!

There was entertainment every night at the Convention Centre. Lindy went to the ABBA night and danced the night away while I recovered at the apartment. Masters young and not very young show that active life style is the key for staying young. Where else would you hear that people are excited about growing another year older apart from at Masters sports?

3 Gold Medals in the Indoor Rowing Competition

In between massaging the netball Team, Lindy managed to fit in the Indoor Rowing Competition at the Convention Centre. Contrary to rumour, there is no water involved in this sport. They didn’t put a swimming pool in the Convention Centre and then put rowing boats in it!

They have 10 Concept II Rowing Machines sitting side by side. They all hook up to the computer and then display on a big screen.

Lindy won the 1km, 2km and 4 minute events in the 50 – 54 lightweight division. She also came 2nd in the 500m race.

Lindy only discovered this sport after her knee operation earlier this year. She was using the rowing machine in the gym as part of her rehab & discovered that it is one of the few sport that she can compete in without having a guide to do it with, such as running, swimming or cycling. She just needs someone who can read the monitor and tell her how she is going. My favourite vet Lindsay ensured Lindy gave it all to the finish line.

Lindy seems to be hooked on this indoor rowing. Although she won three Gold, her technique needs lots of work. During the competition, she was the only one person who “rowed” the machine backwards while her competitors put their energy into moving the chain and keeping their machine still!

I heard her telling people that she was all over the place during the race. “It was like a dog’s breakfast!” said Lindy. How insulting! I just hope none of my doggie friends heard that comment.

Lindy is going to work on her technique over the next few months. By the next competition, she should be able to row smoothly down the stream without threatening to row over me! I was quite scared sitting in the front row watching the race.

Lindy was surprised that Channel 2 and Channel 9 came to the Indoor Rowing Competition. Lindy was told that she was the only blind athlete competing at this Pan Pacific Games. The organizers thought there has only ever been one other athlete with a disability – an arm amputee competing in soccer. (at least he never got called for handling the ball!)

The organizers were keen to provide more opportunity for people with a disability to compete in future Pan Pacific Masters Games. Many sports already cater for people with a disability. Some of which are swimming, athletics, cycling, rowing & lawn bowls

People with vision impairment can compete against sighted people in indoor rowing & team sports such as Outrigger Canoeing and Dragon Boating can certainly have a blind competitor in their team.

In the near future, with greater acceptance and understanding, people with all abilities can enjoy the friendship and well being that Masters Sports bring.

That’s about it for this month’s message from the Black Labrador.

Remember: “You are never too old to go for your dream.”