Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alice Springs Holds Masters Games 2008

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.


nzm said...

I love Dawn Fraser - she's been a hero of mine since I started competitive swimming many years ago. I never got to see her swim, but did get to see another fine swimmer and hero, Shane Gould, when she came to open the Olympic Pool in Suva.

J ran in the Berlin Marathon a couple of weeks ago and the number of senior citizens running in it was impressive.

J tells of an earlier 25km fun run this year where she kept getting passed by 3 women in their 60s, who would then stop for a chat, drinks and a sit-down with friends camped along the route, only to get back into the race and overtake J again. This happened about 3 times. If J hadn't been so amused by it, the whole thing could have been very demoralising, but she was suffering from a stomach virus and not at her best!

Robin said...

Interestingly, the first two digits of a runner's number (shown on chest) at the MG is the age group.

This means you can see what age group people are whom you are passing or who are passing you.

It's either good or bad for the ego.

Anonymous said...

I am a student in the university in al ain. I will do a presentation about a multicultural UAE. I chose this topic because I want to make people here especially locals aware of the multicultural society they are living in and I want all of us to respect others more so that we can live here, in the UAE happier.

It would be great if you can give me some ideas to do this presentation. I also have some questions for you.
-What do you like about local people?
-What don’t you understand about them?
-Do you have any problems with people from different cultures that arise from language, cultural and religious differences?
-Do you have any funny situations created from the difference in cultures or languages?
Please mail me your answers to
Or simply post them on you blog I will come to check.
Thank you in advance

Anusorn 

Robin said...

I've replied to the email provided as follows:

Dear Anusorn

Salam alaykom. Thank you for visiting my blog, Henrys of Alice Springs (Ex Al Ain)

The UAE certainly is a multicultural country. It's an excellent example of how different people can live peacefully and happily in one place even though they have different cultures, religions, and different ideas.

Multiculturalism works well in the UAE because the UAE Government allows people from other countries to practise their religions and to follow their cultures where they do not conflict with the UAE culture and religion. For example, many non-Emiratis drink alcohol. The UAE allows those people to drink alcohol, but has strict rules governing its use.

Also, all expats know that they are visitors and most do not want to offend those who have invited them into their country. For some of the lower paid expats, the UAE offers them salaries and opportunities they cannot get at home and a chance of a better life. This is specifically the case with Indian, Pakistani, Afghani and Fillipino expats.

Tolerance and respect are the keys.

Now to answer your questions.

What do I like about local people?

The local people are pleasant people and always nice to talk with. Many of the Indian and Filipino people are always polite and respectful when you do business with them. Emiratis always dress in nice, clean, tidy clothing as do most Indians.

What don't I understand about them?

I didn't understand why Emiratis do not provide better conditions of work and salary for the many maids, drivers and other servants who work very long hours looking after their children. I didn't understand why Emiratis don't take better care of their diet and health so that the level of diabetes would reduce. I didn't understand why Emiratis don't drive more carefully and make their children wear seat belts.

Do you have any problems with people from different cultures that arise from language, cultural or religous differences?

I had no problems based on culture or religion. I respect all people and understand that they are entitled to their own view of religion and culture as I am. I found some of the religious ideals quite different from mine, but I expected that; I went to the UAE to experience other cultures, not for an Australian experience!

Sometimes I experienced language problems communicating because I only speak English. I learnt a little Arabic and Farsi, but everyone in the UAE has language problems at some time and I would just have a laugh and move on. It made my experience more interesting.

Do you have any funny situations created from the difference in cultures or languages?

Yes. In Australia if someone says they will deliver something you have bought in their shop eg, a refrigerator, lounge suite, bed etc, at a certain time, they deliver it at that time. In the UAE people NEVER delivered anything at the time they agreed to. It was always funny. Someone would say they would deliver something at 10 am and arrive at your house at 8 pm.

A couple of times my wife and I took taxi rides with drivers who didn't understand where we wanted to go. Once we were taken to one side of Al Ain when we should have been at the other. We just laughed and got another taxi driver. Everyone is good natured about these types of things.

There are many things about the UAE culture that we can learn from in Australia. For example, although the dress standards in the UAE are too strict, they are too loose in Australia. Somewhere in the middle would be nice in Australia. Also, the UAE has almost no graffiti on walls and in streets and you can leave your car anywhere and expect to find it as you left it. This is not the case in Australia. We have people who spray grafitti on walls and sometimes damage your cars and property (vandalism) when you leave them somewhere.

Anusom, I hope you do well with your assignment and that the above information helps.

Every best wish