Team heads for Elders Olympics

Off to the games: Aunty Gloria Holten, Aunty Marian Holten and Aunty Djakki Travers  preparing to lead the Port Macquarie-Hastings team into the 2017 Elders Olympics.
Off to the games: Aunty Gloria Holten, Aunty Marian Holten and Aunty Djakki Travers preparing to lead the Port Macquarie-Hastings team into the 2017 Elders Olympics.

A team of 11 competitors representing the Port Macquarie-Hastings will pit their skills and fitness levels against 36 teams in the 2017 Elders Olympics on Thursday.

The Elders Olympics are in Lake Macquarie and are held over one day.

Led by the oldest Elders, Aunty Gloria Holten, Djakki Travers and Marian Holten, the team will compete across a range of sports and disciplines.

Organiser Reta Latimore said the group had funding the trip through the sale of arts and craft items and raffles.

“We really do struggle for sponsors and financial support to send a team away,” she said.

“Fortunately, Werin Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre and Mid North Coast Local Health District’s aboriginal health program worker Tristram Morris supported this team for the games. This funding has helped cover individual accommodation costs.

“Unfortunately, that financial burden has seen our team drop from 30 competitors down to 11.”

These (Elders) just love the games because they can be competitive and represent the Port Macquarie-Hastings area

Team organiser Rita Latimore

One of the competitors Gloria O’Brien-Rudyk said her son describes the event as a modern day corroboree.

“It’s a real gathering. You will catch up with relatives and friends and also forge new friendships that you meet up with the following year,” she said.

“And this is a great time to be with everyone. It’s just fun, fun, fun.

“And it’s one of the only times where we catch up with family when it’s not a funeral.”

But there is a very strong, underlying upside to the event: it keeps participants enjoying their lives.

Ms Latimore said all team members were ‘very competitive’ and this led to some great struggles in each of the games’ disciplines.

“These (Elders) just love the games because they can be competitive and represent the Port Macquarie-Hastings area,” she said.

“We will very proudly display our team banner – which Uncle Morrie Pollock painted specially for the team – when we line up for the official opening and banner parade.

Teams from Blue Mountains, Narrabri, Dubbo, Armidale and Wellington will compete in the games.

The Elders Olympics kicked off in Kempsey 17 years ago with six teams. 

For the record

Teams will compete across a number of sports and disciplines including, quoits, shooting hoops, throwing, pass the football, hockey and ball relay, walking relay and egg and baton.

All competitors in the Elders Olympics must be aged over 50 years.

The winning team is responsible for hosting the following year’s event.

Sign of the times: Uncle Morrie Pollock painted the team's banner.

Sign of the times: Uncle Morrie Pollock painted the team's banner.