Olympic-style competition for the elderly gets under way
PUBLISHED: 15:22 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:20 24 January 2018
The tension in a nursing home lounge was almost palpable as a special sporting competition for the elderly began.
Designed to increase sporting participation amongst older generations, the first session of the Care Home Olympics took place yesterday at Kirkley Manor Care Home in Lowestoft.
Eyes were fixed on the action as residents took part in a game of boccia - a type of bowls played in the Paralympics - which involved tossing balls towards a target mat.
Thirty care providers from across Suffolk are taking part in the six-week competition, which will also see participants try their hand at mat fishing and curling. The homes have been split into three groups and the two top scoring homes in each group will go on to compete in a finals week with a chance of winning trophies.
Event organisers, Elatus Sports, hope to promote inclusiveness in sport and emphasise how adaptable it can be to suit people with disabilities.
Speaking at the first session, Elatus manager and score keeper Sam Oakley emphasised that the competitive spirit of those taking part remained undiminished, despite their frailties.
“Some of the residents were apprehensive to begin with, but once they came out of their shells they really enjoyed it,” said Mr Oakley.
“Others were afraid they would not be able to do it but they just got on with it and were cheered on by their fellow residents along the way.”
Elatus is a social enterprise that was set up in 2013 to continue the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They launched the Care Home Olympics - funded by Suffolk County Council - in 2016 with just eight teams, but interest has soared ever since and they recently secured a funding extension to meet the huge demand.
Carole Cook, activities coordinator at the Kingsley Healthcare-run home on Kirkley Park Road, said: “The residents were so keen that they were in position in the lounge before Sam had even arrived. They’ve been geeing each other up and it’s the big topic of conversation.
“One of our residents, Valerie Young, is very competitive; another one, Richard Smith, is very frail but he can still take part. That’s the beauty of the competition.”
Other care homes taking part in Lowestoft are Estherene House and Britten Court.