For Noyea Riverside resident Carol Rustichelli, winning a silver medal in this year’s Pan Pacific Masters Games has reignited her competitive spirit.
“My husband and I have been regulars at bowling for years but we’ve never competed at this level,” she said.
“You could say this experience has whetted my appetite!”
The Pan Pacific Masters Games is one of Australia’s biggest sporting events, with 16,000 participants from 40 countries converging on the Gold Coast to compete in 42 different sports.
Carol was a last-minute addition, substituting for an injured player, and didn’t have much time to let the enormity of the competition sink in.
“I’m actually still a bit bewildered,” she said.
“I met my partner the morning we qualified.
“The next day we bowled for six and a half hours in the heat and came away with the silver medal!”
An avid bowler and golfer, Carol has always stayed active. However, a bad shoulder injury in 2015 prompted her to put more focus on her physical wellbeing.
After an intensive physiotherapy program, she worked hard to get back on track.
“The physiotherapists told me to ‘use it or lose it’, so I started going to the gym.
“I’m doing things I never thought I would do and honestly, getting into that kind of exercise regime has got me to the place I am now.
“I’ve gone ahead in leaps and bounds in bowling – I’m playing the best bowls I’ve played in 30 years!”
Following her Games achievement, Carol plans to seek out competitions to hone her skills even further.
“It really enlightened me, seeing 93-year-olds participating in swimming and rowing,” she said.
“I’ve always believed age will not define me – I want to do as much as I can.”
And by the sound of things, she’s doing just that.
Carol is also a keen gardener, volunteers as the resident secretary at Noyea Riverside Retirement Village – where she and her husband have lived since 2016 – and has even starting taking a creative writing course at the University of the Third Age.
“It’s taking you out of your comfort zone, making you do something new,” she said.
“A lot of people do try new things in retirement, though there are also a lot of people who don’t.”
Retiring young, she says, has kept her on the lookout for new opportunities that cross her path, like the Pan Pacific Games.
“My husband was a Vietnam veteran and we both retired at 55, which was far too young for us.
“I’ve always been involved in something and I think I went looking for things just to keep myself busy.
“It just got a bit worse once I got to 70 – maybe that’s the new middle-age crisis!”