Jodie Whittaker - 5 October 2013
Geelong’s Barwon River was home to a flotilla of eager paddlers as the 14th Australian Masters Games Canoe and Kayak events began early this morning (Saturday).
Springtime sunshine peered through thick clouds, creating an uncharacteristically warm day - perfect for the rowdy collection of water sport enthusiasts lining the riverbank cheering on athletes from across Australia.
At 58, Castlemaine’s Hal Curwen-Walker lives the spirit of the Master’s Games, staying strong, active and enjoying the social aspects to his sport. After a lengthy break from competition, the 1982 Australian Canoe Federation gold medalist has returned to Marathon paddling and competed in the 16km kayaking event.
His passion for the sport has seen him recently set up a canoe club in Lake Caincurran, west of Maldon, Victoria. Under Hal’s expert tuition, newcomers to the sport will hopefully follow his successful lead.
The Curwen-Walker family has produced talented aquatic sports folk. Of the six siblings, brother David kayaks socially, but sister Robin takes her paddling more seriously. She accompanied Hal to Geelong for the Games.
When asked why she wasn’t out on the water too, Robin confessed,
“I chickened out as in my age grouping, I’d have to do 20km – so no thanks,” settling for calling out encouragement as Hal splashed towards the marking buoys.
Like Hal, Robin enjoys the camaraderie of the paddling fraternity commenting,
“Despite it being a whole of Australian field of competitors, it is a small community. You get to know the involved ones pretty fast as they are a really friendly, fun lot of people”.
Over 8,000 people are expected to join the Curwen-Walkers in Geelong for the week-long event, beginning on Saturday 5th October. The Australian Masters Games encompasses 50 sports for men and women ranging from athletics, cycling and golf through to woodchopping and cue sports. The only pre-requisite for competing is that participants meet the minimum age criteria, which in most sports is 30 years.
As well as competing in their chosen sport, the Games offer a fun-filled social program, including an opening and closing ceremony, and festival-like atmosphere throughout the week.
The Australian Masters Games will be staged until Saturday 12 October and is one of Australia’s largest multi sporting events.
For further Australian Masters Games information and to register, visit -
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