'We don't stop playing because we get old - we get old because we stop playing.'
9th World Squash Masters Championship, Christchurch, New Zealand.
The afternoon before I left Christchurch for McMurdo, I was lucky enough to watch my 75-year old South African uncle - Jonathan Irving - play squash in the 9th World Masters Championship. The last time I can recall watching him play was at The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg when I was a wee girl of about 7 or 8. I wore my favourite turquoise-and-white checked gingham frock and white sandals, but confess to not remembering much about the game itself! I do know I'd have done my best to 'behave like a lady' in The Club and - if memory serves me well - I was treated to a bottle of lime green Hubbly-bubbly afterwards.
Forty years later, I was delighted to be able to watch Jonnon play again - this time on NZ turf. His opponent was a 79-year old gentleman named Maurie Peters. What a match! And what an inspiration these two men were! They both deserved a trophy. Afterwards, we enjoyed a couple of pints of ice-cold Monteith's Summer Ale. (Roll over Hubbly-bubbly... )
I'm telling this story here because this morning I learnt that Jonnon went on to win his section of the tournament on Saturday (he was listed in the 75 - 99 bracket in the 2008 programme; how cool is that?). He now bears the title, World Masters Champion. This is not his first time, either. Congratulations Jonnon - you've once again proved there was merit to your old mates' nicknaming you 'Irv the Swerve!'
And to think you almost didn't enter - it just goes to show... Next competition, Munich 2010?
I was astounded to learn afterwards that an 82-year old woman and an 84-year old man also played impressive games in the tournament. The Masters Championship dictum says it all...