When the phone rings, Doreen Rayward Wilson answers with a sense of calm and a warm ray of sunshine on the New South Wales coastline. At 90 years old, Doreen’s life is far from that of a typical retiree. As a lifelong gymnast, she lives by the motto of always keeping moving.
Doreen has embarked on various successful ventures over the past seven decades, including launching children’s gymnastics programs in regional towns and a fitness program for those over 50, which has been adopted by Gymnastics Australia and implemented nationwide.
Now, at an age when most would be content with maintaining their independence, Doreen is preparing to represent Australia in performance gymnastics at the World Gymnaestrada in Amsterdam. The World Gymnaestrada, held every four years, is the largest general gymnastics exhibition in the world, bringing together 19,000 participants from 60 countries.
While Doreen admits she’s not thrilled about the long plane ride, she’s excited to join her 14 teammates, known as the Eastern Greys from Taree, on stage. This will be her sixth time performing at the international event, where she first participated as a member and coach of the Taree Gymaroos, a team she founded.
When asked how long she’s been involved in gymnastics, Doreen jokingly responds, “I think since I was born.” In reality, she didn’t start until adulthood when she became a high school PE teacher in the 1950s. Her first experience with gymnastics came when she was tasked with inspiring her students for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
But for Doreen, gymnastics is more than just a sport. It’s a philosophy that she applies to all aspects of her life. Even though hip and shoulder replacements have forced her to slow down a bit, she continues to perform various gymnastic movements and routines. Her secret? She describes herself as “just a little old lady who loves to move.”
Doreen maintains a rigorous fitness regime, including 600 skips with a skipping rope as her warm-up. She follows it up with stretches, strength training, and gymnastics moves specific to her group’s routine for the upcoming performance.
Her dedication to gymnastics for all ages and body types is evident in her passion for advocating for inclusivity in the sport. She believes that anyone, regardless of their age or physical build, can participate in gymnastics and experience its benefits.
In addition to her involvement in gymnastics, Doreen has made significant contributions to the community. She started the largest gymnastics club in regional New South Wales and introduced similar programs in surrounding towns. She was recognized for her contributions with an Order of Australia in 2019 and has participated in events such as the Sydney Olympic Games and the Melbourne and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Currently, Doreen focuses on helping older individuals stay active and maintain their mobility. She mentors young coaches and volunteers in the retirement home where her husband resides, leading movement classes.
As for the future, Doreen doesn’t rule out participating in the next World Gymnaestrada in 2027. She takes each day as it comes, embracing happiness and making the most of every moment.
As our conversation comes to a close, Doreen’s sunny beach excursion reveals another dimension to her seemingly endless energy. She bids farewell as she heads back to the retirement village, ready for her next adventure.
Don’t miss out on the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports. Subscribe to our newsletter for daily updates!
Denial of responsibility! SamacharCentrl is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
Hasibur Rahaman is a passionate sports journalist. He covers everything from cricket to field hockey, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis of sporting events, both within India and on the international stage.