GYMNAST Alexander Beernink was a standout at the Australian Masters Games in Tasmania in October – not only for being the only gymnastics competitor in his age category, but for competing in a sport he only took up at the age of 60.
Although he only began competing in later life, Alex, now 73, was no stranger to the sport, having been introduced to it by his gymnast father while a boy.
“I was very young – probably about three or four – and went once or twice to watch my father train at his club in the Netherlands,” he said.
“I was always interested in it and at 60 I decided if I wanted to give it a try, it was now or never.
“I have never been formally taught gymnastics. I started training at Koorana in Marion for the first 18 months and while I was there someone asked if I wanted to take part in an upcoming competition, which I did.”
Alex has now taken part in 14 competitions, including seven years in a row competing in the Masters Games. He has competed on the rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar, pommel horse, mini-trampoline and floor.
Now retired to Murray Town, he keeps fit training in his shed using his own equipment.
Alex doesn’t have a favourite apparatus. “I like them all – my favourite just depends on how I’m feeling on the day.”
He feels gymnastics is something he can do into the future as he is reasonably supple, but admits he needs to take care.
“I try to listen to my body before I do anything, otherwise I pay the price and have to wait months to get better,” he said.
Any South Australians who missed out on this year’s Masters Games action can get ringside seats when the event comes to Adelaide in 2019.
The capital will host the 17th Australian Masters Games from
October 5-12, the seventh time it will have done so.
More than 10,000 athletes and spectators are expected to attend.
16th Australian Masters Games highlights
- More than 5000 participants took part in 47 sports at 65 venues throughout northwestern Tasmania.
- More than 1000 volunteers helped out over the eight-day event.
- The oldest competitor, Ted Moule, 93, from Hobart, took part in sailing events all week – and it was his first appearance at the games.
- Ninety-year-old Heather Lee, from Richmond in NSW, clocked a world record for her age group of 24:56 in the 3000m walk.
- Fly fishing and trail running made their debuts on the program.
- Participants came from every Australian state and territory.
- Seventeen other countries were represented.
- Two local mayors, Devonport’s Steve Martin and Kentish’s Don Thwaites, teamed up to claim bronze in the table tennis.