5 October 2015
Adelaide’s sweltering temperatures and strong winds bought some challenges on day three of the 15th Australian Masters Games in Adelaide, and despite its location amidst the air conditioned climate of the Airbnb Games Village, it was boxing which brought the heat.
48-year-old American Chet Pickens is just one of nearly 200 boxers who aren’t pulling any punches in Adelaide, and it’s been 16,000km well-travelled for the Chicago native – who picked up his first boxing gold medal in the 69-75kg middleweight category.
The artist and bus driver from Illinois had only heard good things about Australia, and it prompted him to board a plane to come fight downunder on a whim.
“I heard the Aussies were good people and I thought this was a good opportunity to go to an event and do something different,” Pickens said.
Albeit elated to have claimed Australian Masters Games gold, the American is on a greater mission than merely sporting endeavours.
“I want to take a message back to my country to say stop the violence,” said Pickens.
“I have come to Australia to fight, but it is done without guns. I go in the ring and we have fisticuffs, we win or lose and then we go out and have fun.”
The boxer plans to talk to schools, the children on his bus, and sporting clubs back home about the need to stop the violence on the street, and to show they too can travel the world and meet new people through boxing.
“We can fight all we like in the ring, but once we are out of it, then we should be able to shake hands,” said Pickens.
Archer Sylvana Plazanet is another member of the Games family to add an international flavour.
Hailing from Kone, New Caledonia, Plazanet has travelled almost 3,000 kilometres – with family and bow in tow – to be part of the 15th Australian Masters Games.
Having won a number of medals in her sporting career, including gold at the 2013 World Masters Games in Turin, the 64-year-old hopes Adelaide will be yet another winning experience.
Whilst not fluent in English, Plazanet’s daughter Wallis has joined her at the Games – along with husband and fellow archery participant Guy – and says her mother is here to win, but appreciates more than just the end result.
“She loves the sport because it’s really nice to meet new people,” said Wallis.
“Even though she can’t speak English, she’s always well-received and people try to help her all the time. It’s not the same mentality in our country, so she loves to experience new things.”
Although the distance pales in comparison, Adelaide is still a far cry from the small town of Bomaderry, New South Wales – some two hours south of Sydney.
It’s from here the tight knit and travel-hardened Bomaderry FC hone their football skills before pitting them against the best Masters around the world and Australia.
The men in yellow and black are no strangers to racking up the kilometres for the love of football. They have travelled as far as Turin, Italy to participate in the 2013 World Masters Games, and are here for their first Australian Masters Games – ready to take the Men’s 50+/55+ football competition by storm.
Team Manager and player, Alan Barnes believes travel is actually an integral part of what makes participating in different Games such a drawcard for his side.
“We decided at the end of our careers we would try and do as many Masters Games as we can,” the 55-year-old said.
“It’s just a way of all the guys being brought together and travelling to see the country and the world.”
As for their work on the pitch, Bomaderry FC started the competition well, defeating Adelaide Juventus in a tough contest 1-0 in the opening match of Group 1.
From 10am @ Adelaide Super-Drome, Main North Road, Gepps Cross
Suffering spinal injuries and ending up bedridden for 6 months after a bush track cycling accident was not enough to stop the 57-year-old. Riding is still painful for Spence but the Australian Masters Games are a step on the road to recovery.
9:40am @ SA Athletics Stadium, 145 Railway Terrace, Mile End
Having not been involved in athletics since her school days, the 66-year-old fell back in love with the sport and will now compete in her 7th Australian Masters Games.
Archery @ Saint Ignatius’ College, Manressa Court, Athelstone
Athletics (track & field) @ SA Athletics Stadium, 145 Railway Terrace, Mile End
Boxing @ Airbnb Games Village – Adelaide Convention Centre, North Terrace, Adelaide
Cycling (track) – SuperDome, Main North Road, Gepps Cross
Racquetball @ South Adelaide Squash Centre, 2A Midera Avenue, Edwardstown
Volleyball – Brighton High School, 305 Brighton Road, North Brighton
It’s the final day of competition in six sports, and you don’t want to miss out. Gold medals and bragging rights will be up for grabs, but participants will need to be at their very best to etch their name in Australian Masters Games history.
7pm @ Airbnb Games Village, Adelaide Convention Centre, North Terrace
Coopers is a brand synonymous with South Australia, and has been a part of the state’s fabric for more than 150 years. The team from Coopers will provide tastings and an insight into the nuts and bolts of what makes their beers truly special.
Then, Games participants will get their jumpsuits on and Fernando pumping as they let their inner Dancing Queen loose with this brilliant tribute to the other fab four.
The 15th Australian Masters Games are underway in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
The Australian Masters Games is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia.
Over 8,000 weekend warriors are set to inspire Australians to get active when the 17th Australian Masters Games kick off in Adelaide in October next year.
The Australian Masters Games is returning to Adelaide in 2019, with preparations for the 17th edition in full swing as General Manager Gary O’Donnell sets forward his vision ahead of the Games in October 2019.
More than 10,000 athletes and spectators will come together in Adelaide in 2019 for the 17th Australian Masters Games.