Tunnel ball and hoop flipping: Aboriginal elders battle for the podium

Western Sydney Aboriginal Elders Olympics participants Linda McDonald and Patricia Field.

Aboriginal elders proved this week you’re never too old to win Olympic gold.

The second annual Elders Olympics were held at Blacktown Leisure Centre in Stanhope Gardens on Wednesday, bringing together a dozen teams from far and wide including Dubbo, Campbelltown and Redfern.

Local walking groups had been training for months in anticipation of the competition.

More than 100 Aboriginal people aged 50-plus competed fiercely for gold, silver and bronze in events including tunnel ball, hoop flipping, and egg & spoon races.

The events were designed to encourage bending, stretching and movement while also being accessible for competitors using wheelchairs.

Western Sydney Local Health District Aboriginal care facilitator Carol Muthunesan and Westmead Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Narelle Holden organised the day as a social highlight for older people.

“The elders were very competitive, they definitely wanted those medals but everyone had a lot of fun as well,” Carol said.

“We know that Aboriginal people still have shorter life expectancies so it’s important to run these health events that people really look forward to.”

There were plenty of health stalls at the event, including (pictured) oral health and diabetes prevention.

Two hundred people on the day received gift bags for visiting every health stall and getting more information on topics including breast screening, diabetes and dental care.

The teams were also encouraged to take part in the Living Well training program, which gives people skills in areas including nutrition, exercise, managing chronic illness and talking to health professionals.

To find out more, contact Carol at Carol.Muthunesan@health.nsw.gov.au or on 0402 130 843.