SPORTS August 8th, 2012

By Perry King

Senior games bigger than ever

Participation up by 35 percent in annual sporting events

When asked to describe the game of pickleball, Merrie Lee chuckles and smiles gently.

“A lot of people ask me this question,” said Lee, who only began playing the game two years ago.

The game combines elements of badminton (the court), tennis (the racquets and net), wiffle ball (the ball) and table tennis (the rules).

“History says that this gentleman who was losing the mobility to do overhead serves in tennis, wanted to continue playing, so he put together this game,” Lee said.

This spring, pickleball and 17 other activities were featured at the 30th annual North York Senior Games, a three-month saga of events held across North York. Those 55 and over had the chance to compete in a variety of sports and games including cribbage, scrabble, lawn bowling and swimming.

“The games went very well this year,” said Jane Robson, the North York Games publicity rep.

In fact, the games had its highest turnout since its inception, a 35 percent jump this year compared to 2011.

“It’s the most gratifying, most exciting wonderful experience because you get to see your country, and you get to meet people from all over Canada, and the camaraderie is wonderful,” said Lee, a participant in the games since 2004.

The success behind motivating more seniors to get active is a challenge.

“When you’re talking about seniors, a lot of seniors are not capable of doing any of the things,” Robson said.

For 45 winners at the North York Games, including Lee who will be competing in pickelball, their journey isn’t over. North York, classified as District 15, is one of 41 member districts across the province that will send entrants to the regional Senior Games in Brampton, beginning Aug. 14.