Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's never too late to sport a medal

Seniors eager for national competition

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From left,  Peggy Stewart,  Alice Brown, husband Lloyd Brown and  Pat Baker at the  Sturgeon Creek  Retirement Residence. They're amped for Canada's All Seniors Care Living Centres Games.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

From left, Peggy Stewart, Alice Brown, husband Lloyd Brown and Pat Baker at the Sturgeon Creek Retirement Residence. They're amped for Canada's All Seniors Care Living Centres Games. Photo Store

The Games are just around the corner and Lloyd Brown is amped to repeat his medal-winning performance.

He's been practising for years, after all, with the devoted support of his wife, Alice, who calls her betrothed "one of the better ones."

Sochi? Well, not quite.

Lloyd Brown will turn 101 years old next month. Alice is 93.

Brown is the defending silver medallist at Canada's All Seniors Care Living Centres Games, having captured a medal the colour of his hair last year. Beginning Monday, thousands of seniors from 20 centres across the country will compete in the Games, including more than 1,000 from Winnipeg.

Brown's medal is in bocce ball. But he has a room full of medals from different competitions over the years. Not bad for a man who once worked for Eaton's furniture department for 45 years, when parcels were delivered by horse and wagon.

'It keeps you feeling better. It stirs the blood'

-- Lloyd Brown, who turns 101 years old next month

"It keeps you feeling better," he said. "It stirs the blood."

Brown's blood has stirred before. Born and raised on a farm in St. Boniface, he became a pilot during the Second World War. Considered too old to fly overseas, he trained pilots in Canada.

While stationed at the small Manitoba community of Paulson, he attended a dance in nearby Ochre River and asked a young woman named Alice to dance.

More than 75 years later, including 73 years of marriage, Lloyd and Alice are seated in the Sturgeon Creek Retirement Residence, where they have lived for the last six years.

Asked about the longevity of their vows, Alice replied: "I guess he never found anyone better and I never found anyone better."

Then she laughed, adding, "I guess we get along well."

The Games, which run till Friday, aren't just for kicks and giggles. Opening ceremonies will feature former Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback and current B.C. Lions QB Buck Pierce at Shaftsbury Park and Premier Greg Selinger will attend Sturgeon Creek.

It's now the fifth year for the Games, originally formed in advance of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

"We thought, 'Let's hold our own version of the Olympics,' " said Sherelle Pullman, senior regional director of health and wellness for All Seniors Care.

National events include bocce ball, Wii bowling and Wii golf. Regional events range from billiards to shuffleboard to cards.

It's not the four-man bobsled or figure skating, but when the majority of competitors are well into their ninth decade, a "hallway walking" event shouldn't be sneered at, and residents start their "training" well before Christmas.

"As soon as the snow falls... the next thing you know, everybody's getting serious," Pullman said. "It brings a real sense of pride to the building if you win a national medal. It brings people together."

Pat Baker, 80, competes in cribbage now, after a failed attempt at bocce ball.

"You've got to get involved with other people," she said. "Otherwise, why be around? It's a lot of fun. It gets you up off your derrière."

How do you spell that, a reporter asked. "D-e-r-r-i-e-r-e," Baker said, without hesitation, then noted, "I was a schoolteacher."

Baker and Peggy Stewart will be serving as chefs de mission for Sturgeon during the Games. That means they'll be involved in the opening and closing ceremonies. But their main focus is to promote participation.

Said Stewart: "The main thing we always have to remember is smile, damn you, smile. Open it up to everybody."

But just like in the Sochi Olympics, results matter at Sturgeon, too. Residents have won four national medals in the last five years. "It's a huge big deal," Baker insisted.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2014 A16

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