With many minds on Rio and the 2016 Summer Olympics, it’s easy to forget Canada has its own athletic tournament getting underway next week, and four people from the Cowichan Valley will be representing B.C.
The Canada 55+ Games are being held in Brampton, Ont., this year from Aug. 16 to 19 and a team of carpet bowlers from Duncan are already on their way.
“We’ve all got people and family to see there,” said Joan Ayers, the team’s skip. “This is why we’re going a week in advance: to spend time with family.”
Ayers’ teammates are Connie Parker (lead), Gordon Kent (second) and Lois Haas (third). With the exception of Parker, everyone on the team is over 80 — but age isn’t slowing any of them down.
“We’ve all got health problems, we’ve all got back problems, it shouldn’t stop you,” said Ayers. “You’ve got to have the frame of mind to want to do it. So many people say ‘Oh I can’t do it. Woe is me.’ It’s easy … It’s not a hard game to learn.”
Carpet bowling is similar to lawn bowling or curling, and requires players roll weighted balls down the length of a nine metre green carpet, aiming to land as close as possible to a small white ball called the “jack” (similar to the button or bullseye in curling).
Ayers has been playing for about 16 years, Haas for 14 years and Parker for 12 years, while Kent is still a relative newcomer to the game in the last two years. Some of the women on the team have competed in B.C. carpet bowling provincials, and Parker won a silver medal in Edmonton two years ago.
The team practices at the Valley Seniors Organization Activity Center in Duncan, and Ayers encourages anyone interested in trying it out to drop in; carpet bowling is available at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday each week.
“It’s never too late to learn,” she said. “It’s good exercising walking up and down the carpet, bending over picking up the ball. And it’s a social thing. It’s a real social thing. We enjoy the social time. We don’t take it seriously — only competition!”