91 yr old Grandmother sets Olympic Record
My Mom Sets a World Record
Olympic Adventures with Mom
Before the Olympics came to Vancouver I was in the anti-Olympic camp. I even had a "Hospitals not Olympics" bumper sticker on my car. But when my mom heard that "Man in Motion",Rick Hansen, was carrying the Olympic torch into the Richmond park by mom's apartment she insisted I go. I caught the spirit in the lineup to enter the park. European ancestry Canadians are traditionally rather reserved. However Richmond is around 80% Asian Canadian and they seem to love street festivals. I was almost the only white person in the line and almost the only one not dressed up. Ahead of me was a Sikh family:lovely girls and women in the latest styles, old grandma in Shovar Camise and Pashmina shawl, Grandad in his Turban. All were decked out with Olympic Canada badges, hats, shiny Olympic badge,and red mittens.
Behind me was a smiling Chinese family with tiny infants sporting red Canadian flag decals on each cheek. They gave me some candy. The line stretched way around the block but everyone was smiling, cheering singing and talking with each other. We were all together as Canadians. A volunteer gave me a Canada Flag badge and an Olympic Badge. When Rick Hansen rolled his wheelchair into the park and onto the stage we all clapped and roared. There were tears in my eyes. I was hooked on the Olympics. It was all mom's fault.
I passed Royal Canadian Mounties on horses and the fake mounties dancing on stilts on my way into the Richmond Venue. I saw the skating arena which had been taken over by Holland and turned into a giant display area, pub and restaurant. Mom was telling everyone she wanted to go there for her 91st birthday dinner. We were all appalled. "Forget it. Pick a decent restaurant."
Mom's 91st Birthday Morning.
"If we go to Holland House first thing in the morning we wont have to wait in line."
It was her 91st birthday and that's what she wanted to do.I agreed to take her as long as we didn't have to eat in there. Beer and sausage did not agree with me. And my mom is a vegan so she eats veggies only-no sausage for her.
The Holland House sports exhibit was next to their giant pub. You could get your fitness and athletic skills tested on simulated Olympic sports: speed skating, snowboarding, and bobsled. Mom cheered me on as I stood on the movable life sized snowboard and tried to guide it with my feet, to not fall off and to steer through the obstacles with out wiping out. I was competing with a tall man. he was having trouble steering. We sped down a larger than life size track. Icy hills sped by, rocky cliffs. I wiped out repeatedly. But I beat the tall man and got a score of lower middle range.
The Bobsled Run
"You come do the bobsled with me" I urged my mom. It looked easier.
"I'm too old."
"You just sit in the front. I'll do the running at the back."
Mom is under 5 feet tall. It took 2 big Dutch guys' help to hoist her up over the side of the sled and down into the front seat of the bobsled.Then she couldn't see over the front rim unless she really craned her neck.
She was asking me: " What do I do with these two sticks?"
"I don't know mom." I said as I got the signal to run on the treadmill pushing on the sled. I jumped in as film of the speeding bobsled on the track flashed by. We set off speeding down the simulated run.
"But I have to see to steer."
"Steer!" Oh! I forgot she had to steer. That's what those two sticks were for. To steer. Damn it we were going to totally wipe out.
"Oh I get it," she said. " The sticks are like the steering wheel on a car. I pull them to steer the bobsled."
I suddenly realised it was true. My mom had to stretch her neck up to see over the front of the sled and guide us down the track. I thought we would crash for sure.
But there was Mom, peering over the rim expertly guiding the bobsled down the simulated track. People were gathering to watch. A young blond man from the Dutch House staff took her photo. He asked her if she was really 91years old. Still driving the bobsled she replied.
"Yes and this is my best birthday ever.
"I won a world record."
The next day mom called me shouting into the phone.
"I won a world record"
"A world record in the Bobsled."
Sure enough the Holland House Newspaper had a photo of me and mom in the bobsled announcing in Dutch: "Here is Sally S. on her best birthday ever setting a world record in this event for a person of her age."
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