The Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village lawn bowls team, who are participating in Olympics@Ryman are, from left: Gwenda Parker, Richard Hood, Heather and Lou Colquhoun, and Eleanora Adamson (reserve). Photo: Sara Hollyman.
While the world gets ready for Tokyo 2020, a Stoke retirement village is chasing its own version of Olympic glory.
Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village is one of 41 Ryman villages across New Zealand and Australia competing in Olympics@Ryman.
Kicking off in June, it is the world’s first international retirement village Olympic Games.
More than 20 Ernest Rutherford residents and volunteers are taking part in swimming, lawn bowls, cycling, relay walking, and ‘Quiznastics’, which will test the contestant’s Olympic knowledge.
Ryman spokesperson Margot Boock says Ernest Rutherford residents have been able to showcase their talents, learn and try new things in a safe environment.
“We’ve been stunned by the response - we knew our residents were competitive but the songs, the banter, and the enthusiasm for the event have made us realise we’ve unleashed a beast.”
Ryman’s technology partner Aware Group has developed technology solutions to connect all the villages and sports, with the bowls events using artificial intelligence and the cycle races using augmented reality technology.
They will also compete in a 21.6 km relay walk wearing Fitbit technology, and special timing sensor pads will be used to time the swimming events.
The village’s freshly assembled lawn bowls team have recently competed in a trans-Tasman group, including the South Island and Melbourne.
The team played a close match against a team from Charles Upham in Rangiora earlier this month.
Team member Richard Hood says the game was “very exciting”, although they lost by one point.
“It was a great game. It was a very good idea of Ryman to embrace the event, it’s been good fun.”
Lou Colquhoun agrees, saying it just about felt like they were playing in the actual Olympics.
“We had a tremendous crowd of supporters from the village, they were all lined up around the green.”
Olympics@Ryman will conclude on August 8 with a closing ceremony.