Seated volleyball, 400m wheelchair and walking challenge, and pitch n putt – Scotland’s very own version of the Olympics.

With just 21 days until Tokyo 2020 finally gets underway, elderly care home residents across Scotland have launched their own Olympics with a special Tokyo-inspired opening ceremony event, following on from weeks of training.

The Renaissance Care Olympics will see 16 care homes across the country compete across five sports which have been designed to suit the abilities of the care home athletes to encourage physical and mental wellness.

At the opening ceremonies held within each of the homes, the residents, dressed in their own team shirts, were given a taste of Tokyo with Japanese taster plates, chop stick trials, music and discussions on the Japanese culture. Some of the homes were also treated to special sport demonstrations from local boxing and karate experts.

The athletes have been in training over the month of June, getting ready to compete in each of the sports throughout July before a closing ceremony to celebrate their achievements at the end of the month.

For the gold medal, the residents will be competing to see who can walk or wheelchair the most 400m stints throughout July, how many hits of a balloon they can get to keep it off the ground for seated volleyball, and how many punches they can land on the boxing pads. They will also compete in Pitch n Putt, with nine holes set up around the homes, and a one off shot putt event where the resident who can throw the bean bag furthest will take the medal.

Resident at Renaissance Care Jesmond Care Home, Elsie Connell (87), said: “I would have never thought I would be boxing at this age, but after trying it, I am really enjoying it and have seen some improvement already. It’s great to be up and moving and all having a good laugh together – we are one big team here, so we’ve all been supporting each other, although a bit of competitive spirit has been keeping us all very motivated.

“I can’t wait for the competition and closing ceremonies – I’m going for gold!”

Nancy Weir (85), resident at Renaissance Care Croftbank House, said: “It’s been brilliant fun getting ready for our very own Olympics, and if the opening ceremony is anything to go by, the event itself will be a blast.

“The management and staff have pulled out all the stops to make sure we can all get involved in a way which suits us. I felt honoured to carry the Olympic torch, and a wee glass of prosecco made it even more special.”

Yvonne Mackenzie, Operations Director at Renaissance Care, said: “Encouraging physical activity for our residents is extremely important and we really wanted to create something fun that would get everyone involved. The residents across each of the homes have been enjoying the training and we have already seen a great lift in spirits as they get in touch with their competitive side.

“During lockdown, we have been as creative as possible to come up with new ideas to ensure that the residents always have new experiences and the Olympics felt like the perfect way to bring everyone together.

“The relatives have been routing for their loved ones and we have been sharing their progress along the way, so it has been a lovely way to keep everyone connected.”

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