Most of don't think a lot about our sporting activities. It's something we do to stay fit, relieve stress and stay healthy. Yet the truth is that staying active is the key to a long and healthy life and there are North Shore residents who have taken up the challenge of competitive sports well into their 'golden' years.
Fred Schulhof is a competitive swimmer. Beginning at university in his native Ireland, Fred has never stopped and today swims with the North Shore Master's Swim Club.
Over the past several years, he has set and broken a number of Canadian swimming records. In 2005 at the age of 86, he won seven gold medals and one silver at the World Masters' Games in Edmonton. In 2009, he set Canadian records in the male 90-94 age group in the 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter breast stroke and the 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter back stroke.
Today, Fred is as active as ever and keeps his competitive fire alive by trying to break his own records.
For Olga Kotelko, competing at Masters Level sporting events is a way of staying energized. Growing up on a farm, she would walk the 2 miles to school getting there early enough to play softball before the bell rang. A Slow-pitch player until the age of 75, Olga is also a gold medalist in over 5 BC Senior Games events, 4 Canadian Masters Track and Field Championship events and 11 World Masters Track and Field events. In 2009 she set 11 new Canadian records and 8 World records for women over the age of 90 won 9 medals at the World Masters Games in Australia and set 10 age group world records. Her sports include high jump, long jump, triple jump, javelin, discus, hammer throw, shot put, the 100 and 200 meters. She is currently ranked first in the world.
She is also pushing the boundaries of what scientists know about the long term effects of exercise on the process of aging. Exercise has been shown to add 6-7 years to individual life spans and Kotelko's blood, genes and stamina have been subjected to intense scrutiny from doctors and researchers in a number of fields.
Scientists hope that what they find will help others improve their health and vitality as they age. For the rest of us, the lesson is simple: staying active and participating in sports at a competitive or individual level can improve our vitality, health and quality of life.
2011 NS SPORT AWARDS WINNERS
Youth Female: Kenya Chung - Tae Kwon Do
Youth Male: Scott Mulder - Cycling
Open Female: Mandy Marchak - Rugby
Open Male: Eugene Wong - Golf
Master Athlete: Christa Bortignon - Athletics Fred Schulhof - Swimming
Coach: Tom Oxland - Girls Volleyball, Handsworth
Team: Carson Graham Secondary School Girls Field Hockey
Official: Dave Smortchevsky - Rugby
Community Sport Volunteer: Shannon Graham - Volleyball
Para-Athlete: Jeffrey Thompson - Alpine Skiing / Marathon
Comeback: Mark Hopkins - Alpine Skiing
Special Olympian: Lorraine McLatchie - 10 Pin Bowling Belinda Lyle - 10 Pin Bowling
Fair Play: Dave Sattler - Soccer
Youth Leadership: Kristen Laser - Volleyball Nik Termansen - Basketball Samantha Chang-Foidl - Soccer
Outstanding Athletic Program: West Vancouver Field Hockey Club - Adanacs Program
Outstanding Achievement: Rod Craig - Open Water Swimming
Lifetime Coaching Achievement: Doug Abercrombie - Soccer
Community Sport Contribution: Ian Hunter
Spirit of 2010: District of West Vancouver