MATTHEWS – Almost 100 senior athletes and their supporters came to Matthews ready to play at the Mid-South Region OlympiActs games on Oct. 9.
Acts-Retirement-Life Communities sponsored the event. Athletes and their fans came from their retirement communities of Plantation Estates in Matthews, Tryon Estates in Columbus, N.C., Lanier Village Estates in Gainesville, Ga. and Park Pointe Village in Rock Hill, S.C. Participants were bused in the day before the event and stayed at local hotels.
Acts puts on OlympiActs in five regions across the country each year for its 23 retirement communities.
“It’s a long trip, four-and-a-half hours for some, so we put them up in hotels so they can be fresh and chipper at the events,” said Theresa Perry, who is the corporate director of wellness services for Acts. “That way they can make a trip out of it.”
And the enthusiasm among the athletes was high. After an opening ceremony, athletes were sent to the competition sites around Plantation Estates. They competed in water volleyball, billiards, ping pong, a 2-mile race walk, corn hole, Wii bowling and darts. There were also mind competitions that included Jeopardy and jigsaw puzzles.
There is just one competitor per event for most events from the four communities. Water volleyball had three males and three females on the team.
Each location sent 20 athletes and several cheerleaders, who also serve as reserve athletes in case of injury or illness. To earn a spot in the OlympiActs, participants had to go through a rigorous series of trials and heats to be able to represent their local community.
“Every community has tryouts,” Perry said. “The best ones win and they come here. It is very competitive, and they usually start the tryouts three months ahead of time. The competition to make a team is really fierce. They want to win, and they want to take home the gold. There will be a lot of cheering as each community comes up their own cheers.”
Paul Wyche represented Plantation Estates in the 2-mile walk after winning the event in a local qualifier. Wyche and his wife, Joan, moved to Plantation Estates from Charlotte a year ago.
“A reason we came here as opposed to some of the other places in the area is because this is a very active community,” Wyche said. “My wife and I came here, perhaps, earlier than we needed to. We wanted to make sure there were plenty of things to do, and that has been the case. We love Plantation Estates.”
Wyche has been an avid runner his entire life. He still gets out and runs, but competing in the speed-walk event is different.
“It is hard to hold back,” Wyche said. “You can go as fast as you possibly can but you have to keep one foot on the ground at all time. You can’t break into a jog or a run or you could be disqualified.”
Wyche is one of the younger residents and said becoming the Plantations Estates qualifier in the 2-mile walk was an easy process.
“It wasn’t too grueling,” he said.