Champions on the bowling lanes
AN 11-day carnival of "fierce but friendly" competition for tenpin bowlers over 50 from across the country is about to take place at Toowoomba's Sunset Superbowl.
The Australian Tenpin Bowling Seniors Organisation (ATBSO) National Seniors Challenge is on from August 23-September 2, with about 250 people expected to take part.
Returning to the Superbowl's helm, acting Sunset Superbowl manager Mark Smith, who has worked in the industry for 30 years, said that as a true "lifetime sport", tenpin continued to be extremely popular with older age groups.
"Anyone can do it no matter what your age or ability; there are lots of aids to help people," he said.
"We have some people who use a walker as they go up to bowl."
Mark said as well as competitive leagues, Sunset Bowl has a Wednesday noon Golden Oldies group open to everyone over 50 of any level of experience.
"It originally started as part of U3A about 17 years ago," he said.
"Competition is fierce sometimes but it's social and there's no membership, so you just go along when you want to."
For $16.50, you can enjoy two games plus lunch and new players are welcome.
Keen local bowler Marilyn Grundon, who is competing in the ATBSO National Seniors Challenge, began bowling about 20 years ago.
She enjoys the fact that, while the daytime leagues are predominantly "mature" players, because the leagues are based on averages and handicaps, age is irrelevant so, at night particularly, all ages mix.
"It's most definitely the social element as well as the competition, and a lot of people don't realise it's actually very good for you as well," she said.
That includes improving heart and respiratory fitness, strengthening and conditioning your arms, shoulders, chest and leg muscles, increasing endurance, maintaining bone density and burning roughly 240 calories an hour.
Studies have shown that bowling three games is equivalent to walking one mile (1.6km), and the social aspect, of course, also helps general wellbeing.
In the national titles, players compete in individual and team events across four divisions, comprising two based on averages, Open (no restriction of averages) and the Grand Seniors for 60s-plus.
They have previously qualified through state "roll-offs".
ATBSO Queensland treasurer Cheryl Womack said hosting the nationals was definitely a coup for Toowoomba, but Sunset Superbowl was state-of-the-art and, with 24 lanes, one of the state's biggest facilities.
She said while people can be members of the ATBSO, known as "The Seniors", and play socially from 45 years old, representative competition was strictly for the over-50s.
Since its inception in 1992, The Seniors had become the most successful bowling organisation in Australia, she said, and was continuing to grow, with this year's state championships the largest to date.
To find out more, go to atbson.org, phone Cheryl on 0403 123 535, or for Sunset Superbowl phone 4634 0233. Spectator admission to the nationals is free.