Everyone can probably be considered a veteran in the 55+ Games, but the Hendries are in a whole other class by making sure they’re at the event every year.
The Chemainus couple took its track and field talents to Vernon this time to test themselves in competition against others in the same age group.
Nola Hendrie, 62, has a birthdate in August so that put her into eligibility ahead of others at the time. “I’ve managed to be in the Games eight times,” she indicated. “I just managed to hit it right.”
Tim Hendrie, who turns 67 in November, is an inspiration since he continues to compete at his best every year despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago and probably dealing with the effects of the disease at the initial stages before that.
“I wouldn’t just do exercises without a goal in mind,” said Tim. “If I can still do it the same as last year, I feel great.”
Nola claimed silver medals in the 60-64-year-old category while competing in two events for the first time – the pentathlon and triple jump. The pentathlon for the women consists of the 80-metre hurdles, 800-metre run, shot put, long jump and high jump.
“I hadn’t done the 800 before,” she pointed out. “I was agonizing over how am I going to do the 800?”
Nola plotted a strategy and let another runner set the pace. “I usually have a lot left at the end because I save it,” she indicated. “I didn’t start fast enough.”
The second-place finish was still a great accomplishment and she also broke into new territory by doing the triple jump after a test run before the Games at the Duncan track.
“I did it and I wasn’t amazing,” Nola grinned. “It felt so good. That’s what I feel about long jump, too. Triple jump and long jump, I should really work hard on these. I love the feeling of flying through the air.”
She also won a trio of bronze medals at the Games in the individual long jump, high jump and discus plus a gold with the Zone 1 relay team that included Karen Shook of Chemainus.
Tim was the recipient of the bronze medal in the high jump. His heavy competition schedule also included the 800 metres, high jump and shot plus the pentathlon events – long jump, javelin, 200 metres, 1,500 metres and discus.
“It goes on for four days,” explained Tim. “If you don’t do a lot of events, you’re sitting around all day.”
He had two excellent runs during the 1,500 metres in pentathlon and the 800 individually.
“He looked so strong,” noted Nola. “Our track mates were jumping up and down with excitement.”
She was at the massage table, along with a teammate, for a bird’s eye view of Tim’s 800.
“We were leaning up and hollering at Tim from our massage tables,” Nola pointed out. “He did a great job.”
“It’s quite exciting to hear your friends cheering you on,” conceded Tim.
He doesn’t have any qualms about finishing last in the high jump because he’s going against the best and his Parkinson’s has progressed a little more.
“It makes it hard to follow a schedule,” Tim noted. “You have to go with the flow of how I’m feeling. I do it because I like it. If I didn’t like it, I probably wouldn’t have the inspiration to do it.”
The Hendries train virtually all year from mid-October to Sept. 1 with the Nanaimo Track Club, attending three sessions a week.
“Nobody wants to miss it,” said Nola. ” We have a wonderful time. We get great coaching and it’s so much fun.”
They’re on a bit of a break now, although the Goodlife Fitness Marathon races are coming up on the Thanksgiving weekend and they’ll be doing the 8K.
Nola continues setting a fast pace wherever she goes. Last year at Shoreline near Seattle, she did the full 10 events for the decathlon and set a Canadian record in her age group. She also broke the B.C. record for pole vault at the Trevor Craven meet in Burnaby.
“If there’s an event I haven’t done, I want to try that,” Nola pointed out.
She was disappointed the pole vault competition didn’t happen at the 55+ Games this year. Otherwise, Nola loved every minute of the event.
“I would have to say when we were at Vernon, it just reminded me it’s the highlight of our year.”