27 October 2017
Sport has always been a part of Craig Walker’s life and he cherishes the time he can put his head down and compete in the swimming pool like he did at the 16th Australian Masters Games.
The 77-year-old from Redlands, California made the journey to Tasmania’s North West to compete in a number of events in the pool at the aquatic centre in Launceston.
Unfortunately, on day one he was disqualified in the 200m IM as his shoulder got a bit sore in the butterfly leg, but he continued on with fourth in two events on Tuesday and third in the 100m IM.
“So, I was pleased because it was tough competition but the big thing for me is not the medal it’s being able to compete,” Walker said.
“The thrill of for a few hours forgetting that I’m an old man."
Walker has amazingly competed in Masters competitions in 41 states back home and was actually a runner until he was 27 and then started cycling as he was having troubles with his knees.
He cycled until the age of 70, a long-distance rider, once pedalling across the United States when he was 65 years old completing the achievement in just 60 days riding 76 miles a day.
However, a genetic flaw that causes him to get blood clots found by doctors meant that he was not allowed to cycle anymore as a bad fall could cause very serious injury.
“I asked the doctor what sport I could do because I’ve always done something,” he explained.
“So, in 2010 I started swimming and two years later I started competing and I love it, I just love it.”
His time down under has been an enjoyable one meeting new friends, competing as hard as he can and even getting around some Australian native animals.
“It’s just great, everybody is so friendly which makes it great,” Walker said of the Australian Masters Games.
“I’m thankful that at 77 I can get up there on the blocks and have a good time, it’s a wonderful feeling.”
More than 10,000 athletes and spectators will come together in Adelaide in 2019 for the 17th Australian Masters Games.
Tasmania’s North West has put on a show during eight days of memorable Australian Masters Games action, according to Games general manager Scott Wade.
It is impressive for anyone to take up a sport in their later years and compete as a Masters athlete, but starting out as a gymnast at the age of 60 is a remarkable achievement by Alexander Beernink.