The excitement of the Masters Games 2008 hit Alice Springs just over a week ago and the town has had a temporary increase of around 4-5,000 people depending on whose report you believe.
The Masters Games is held here biennially and is open to competitors who are over 35 years of age. Some of the competitors are in their eighties, still cycling, running, swimming or doing something else in the numerous sports covered. While there are a few serious people who want gold, most come for the fun of it; to meet others, have a challenge in their lives and get out there and do their thing.
This games one of Australia's Olympic swimming legends, Dawn Fraser, now in her seventies, competed in swimming and golf and won medals in both. Not that she needs any medals having picked up dozens during her Olympic swimming days. She was here for the fun ... the medals were just part of the outcome. Who in their right mind would compete against Dawn Fraser? Well, I guess, you could boast that you had "swum against Dawn Fraser" and not mention that it was in 2008, decades after her peak swimming period.
Christina and I are two of hundreds of volunteers that worked during the games. Yesterday (Friday) and the last Friday and Saturday we worked in the Games Centre at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, next to the famous Lassiter's Casino. We handed out programs to participants or staffed the reception desk. It was great to meet many of the competitors and to feel we were doing our bit to help. As a bonus we received a back pack, silly bucket hat, and a free polo shirt each, the latter of which is evident in our photo below.
What makes the Masters so great is that none of the competitors is too serious about winning ... it's more a matter of participating, meeting like-minded people and having fun.
And fun they have.
According to the news media reports, sales of condoms and alcohol (a dangerous mix?) sky rocket during the Games.
Tonight is the closing ceremony and it's all over until 2010.
Having seen so many people much older than me participate, I've decided I will compete in the next Masters Games, perhaps in one or two of the walking events eg, the 5 kilometre cross country walk.
I guess if I start preparing now, I should just about be ready by October, 2010. Or maybe by then I will have perfected the art of golf, or FLOG as one competitor called it.
PS: This "refocusing" is a great life.