Myrtle Acton thought it would be a bonding moment and an enjoyable thing to do when she asked her daughter and son-in-law to join her on a fun five-kilometre community walk five years ago in Summerland.
It didn’t quite work out that way–and Acton discovered something she didn’t know she had: a fierce desire to compete.
Acton, 82, has become a star on the senior games circuit, recently setting two new Canadian-age group records in hammer throwing events at the B.C. 55+ Games.
But that day five years ago was an eye-opener.
She started the walk with her family, but was passed by a woman who she had competed against in race-walk events. At that moment, Acton declared she couldn’t let that woman beat her and sped off.
Acton beat the woman to the finish line. Her daughter was upset as she crossed the line 10 minutes later.
“I don’t think my youngest daughter has ever forgiven me,” said Acton, a Sooke resident.
“It’s [competitiveness] just there. It’s just the way I am, I guess.”
Although Acton was a track and field athlete in her youth, once she left school she forgot about sports. It wasn’t until her mid-60’s she returned to sports when she competed in the 1994 B.C. Senior Games (now the B.C. 55+ Games).
Her first foray back to track and field saw her compete in the five-kilometre and 10K race-walks.
The next year she added javelin and discus to her repertoire, and it wasn’t long before shot put and hammer throw became her expertise.
“I didn’t know when I started I would be setting Canadian records,” said Acton. “I started out just wanting to get active.”
Acton calls the B.C. 55+Games a “marvelous organization” as it’s able to gel sports and camaraderie together.
She admits the athletes are all competitive, but there is certainly no trash talking or putting down others. At the end of the day, everyone comes together and encourages everyone on.
Acton not only competes at the B.C. 55+ Games, but other competitions internationally, including the World Masters Games in Sidney, Australia. Next month she plans to head to Nevada for a competition.
“[Seniors track and field] competition has become more of a tourist thing now. There are competitions all over the place.”
Acton says she’s a “bit of a sluggard” when it comes to competing. After all, she only competes in meets five or six times a year.
She calls her training hit and miss, since she can only train once a week with her track club. Sooke, she said, doesn’t have the facilities to bode well with her specific sports.
Acton attempts to make up for it with walking several times a week and some light training.
It’s not quite the way Acton’s coach Danny Daniels sees it.
Daniels, with the Peninsula Track and Field Club, said Acton is a competitor and works hard at her sport.
“While she has natural talent in her throwing events, she is always looking for ways to improve her techniques,” he said. And she has many excellent results, including Canadian records, to show for her attention to detail.”
“She is such a delightful person to know and work with. All coaches should be so lucky.”