Gold Medals at the Seniors Olympics

Third Age Project team

The London 2012 Games taught us much about physical endurance, mental strength and the power of human spirit: it started as a race for medals but patriotism was soon overtaken by awe of the skills and achievements displayed.

But let’s not forget that extraordinary people live on our doorsteps too.

Inspired by the athletes, the Third Age Project (a charity for lovely folks over the age of 60), decided to hold an Olympics Day for its members. Tara, who works at the Project, said: “The last time there was a London Olympics they were a lot younger and stuck to street parties.”

But there would be no chair-based exercises, sewing or pottery today!

Unconventional sportsmen and women were split into teams and put through a series of gruelling tasks to test their agility, mobility and character. These included sitting basketball, tennis, a relay, fastest dash and an egg and spoon obstacle race.

The highlight of the day was the much-anticipated 10 metre sprint where 98-year-old Ethel and 99-year-old Kathy went head to head for glory.

Kathy and Ethel in the race for the 10m dash

Ethel made a valiant and worthy opponent but, at the last moment Kathy, who raced without her walking frame, took the lead and the gold.

Kathy told Camden New Journal: “I feel springy again. I am having to walk it rather than run, but athletics used to be my favourite when I was younger. The joints aren’t allowing me to run it on this occasion, but maybe next year.”

Ethel said: “I was watching the telly the other day, and I thought, ‘when all this lot were babies, I was a grandma. So why can’t I give it a go?’ I’ve become more daring in my old age, I don’t hold back as much as I used to.”

Anticipation as Mayor Johnson announced the victors

Mayor of Camden, Heather Johnson, has been involved with the Third Age Project for years and knows many of the members personally. Heather watched the games, awarded chocolate medallions to the winners and stayed on to join the afterparty barbecue.

Kathy presented with her medal by Mayor Johnson

Tara said: “Each team won an event, except for Team 1, due to blatant and unconditional cheating. They had so much fun doing it too! It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of laughter. Afterwards there was a party and singing which allowed everyone to relax, talk and enjoy being together.”

I hope that the image of a spry, nonagenarian lady enjoying her victory and planning the next will give you an alternative image of success, endurance and character.