It's been a great week or so for our mature athletes in Hawke's Bay, with seniors taking centre stage in both New Zealand and world championship events that were held here.

Meanwhile, across in Whanganui the 30th New Zealand Masters Games was held – a great event with more than 50 sports on offer, it continues as the largest and longest running multi-sport event in New Zealand.

Back here in Hawke's Bay, it's not every day we hold a world championship, but it was the Women's Golf Croquet World Championship that brought together competitors from all over the world last week.

It was an intense competition, with New Zealand hero Jenny Clarke of Christchurch fighting hard and making it to the final four, but finally succumbing to eventual champion and queen of Egypt Soha Mostafa, who beat yet another Egyptian in the grand finale.


There were some huge battles, a real war of attrition, with many matches extending late into the evening. For the average passerby it appears a gentle sport, but even golf croquet requires a level of toughness and fitness.

Last week also saw the New Zealand Seniors Golf championship battled out on the fairways of Hastings Golf Club at Bridge Pa. An event for golfers 50+ years of age, it is a high-quality event with a large number of scratch handicap competitors.

Local identity Stu Duff led the charge for Hastings club and Hawke's Bay golfers, as he set out to defend his New Zealand title from last year.

Duff, who has advanced into the 55-59 age group, has repeatedly showed that age is no barrier, recently beating a previous NZ U19 national champion in the Hastings club championship.

The pressure on Duff to back up after last year's NZ title couldn't be underestimated, especially in front of a partisan local crowd.

He seemed to have the tournament in control, until some jitters on Sunday's back nine kicked in, with Aucklander Michael Barltrop applying the pressure and drawing level with just three holes to play.

But just when it looked like the pressure had got to him, Duff steadied the ship and slammed the door shut for an ultimately convincing four shot win.

All these senior competitors should be an inspiration for us all, showing that with a bit of effort you can continue with sport for life, one of the great mantra's of Sport New Zealand.


The physical and mental wellbeing gained by maintaining involvement social sport is powerful, and with a bit of extra training there is no reason why a more competitive level of sport can't also be continued well into our twilight years.

There is an increasing number of senior citizens engaging in quality physical training, enhancing their ability to perform athletic movements, flexibility, and strength development.

A gradual decrease in physical capability is a natural part of ageing, but that decrease does not need to be so drastic as to stop us from doing many of the things we enjoy, and maintaining physical function through such training is perhaps the closest thing we can get to an anti-ageing drug.

Not only does some good movement and strength training mean a longer and more enjoyable sporting life, but a greater quality of life in general, so we can keep doing basic daily activities and the things we enjoy for longer.

* Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and is also a lecturer in sports science at EIT.