Ryman Residents Compete for Gold in Olympics

close up of older adult swimmer
photo credit: ryman australia

Ryman Healthcare is bringing together 12,500 residents across 41 villages in Australia and New Zealand to compete in the world’s first international retirement village Olympic Games. To get into the spirit of the Tokyo games, Ryman’s residents will be competing in cycling, swimming, bowls, a 21.6 km team walking relay and Quiznastics (gymnastics for the brain).

The Olympics@Ryman will be a chance to pioneer new technologies that enable residents to showcase their talents, to learn and try new things in a safe environment and improve both physical and mental health.

Ryman’s technology partner Aware Group has developed technology solutions to connect all the villages and sports, and the events will include bowls using artificial intelligence and cycle races using augmented reality technology.

Residents will compete in a 21.6 km relay walk wearing Fitbit technology, and special timing sensor pads will be used to time the swimming events.

Ryman chief executive Gordon MacLeod said the aim was to prove it is never too late to compete and to show what technology could do.

“We’ve been working with our residents to come up with a games format that will allow them to compete and we’re expecting hundreds will take part. We’ve discovered we’ve got some incredible sporting talent on board already, including games competitors from the Melbourne and Rome games.

“We’re also expecting some fierce trans-Tasman rivalry as everyone competes for gold.’’

The Olympics@Ryman patron is Barry Magee, who won a bronze in the marathon at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Barry is a resident at Murray Halberg Retirement Village in Auckland and is part of the organising team.

“I’ll be there to support everyone,’’ Magee said.

“I keep reminding everyone they’ll be making history as part of the first retirement village Olympics, so I hope they give it a go.

“Having the quality of life to be able to participate in events like this as you get older is a privilege. The danger is that as you age you get seen as disposable, and older people have never been more at risk than they are today. So, I’m delighted to be part of this.’’

Among the competitors will be 77-year-old Terry Griffiths (pictured above), a resident at Ryman’s Logan Campbell village in Auckland.

Griffiths has been swimming since he was five and has held national titles as well as volunteering as a surf lifesaver at Piha Beach for many years.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun. I’ve been a competitive swimmer all my life so I’m looking forward to it,’’ commented Griffiths.

Aware Group chief executive Brandon Hutcheson expressed that using technology to improve the experience of residents was the future of healthcare.

“Ryman is taking every opportunity to remove limitations on its residents to provide new experiences. By using emerging technologies safely and in a practical, engaging way, residents can create new memories.

“Last week while testing some of the technology at a village, residents came over and engaged with the robotics and became part of the solution.”

The events include:

• Swimming: 30m breaststroke in Ryman’s pools
• Lawn bowls: mixed fours, 10-end in a tournament. We’ll use artificial intelligence to stage the inter-village finals remotely.
• Relay walking race: (six-person team, 21.6 km relay in an indoor race arena using electronic trackers)
• Cycling: (10 km race on stationary bikes using augmented reality technology)
• Quiznastics: (a six-person team quiz, including general knowledge and Olympic questions)