Mildura Weekly : Friday October 17 2014 Vol 8 No 50
SPORT 35 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2014 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU • From Page 34 Fact is, after winning a battle for life itself, being three shots in arrears after one end against the former winners would be of little consequence. Belt and Har- ris played exquisite bowls to claim three of their own on the next, conceded a single, then added a pair of two’s over the concluding ends to etch their names onto one of sport’s most revered honour rolls. However, there is more to this annual Dot Jenkinson fandango than bowls, mats, jacks and scorecards; Why else would around 300 ladies travel from all points of the compass across six states to compete in an event where one sub-par end can spell di- saster? In fact, the field was populated to capacity, and there were 25 teams on a waiting list within two weeks of entries being invited. Perhaps it is the combina- tion of top class competition, or the opportunity for the army of visiting champions to rekindle friendships dur- ing their visit. Both may be factors, but anyone witness- ing the shenanigans at the event’s traditional themed presentation function on the final night, where everyone attended in assorted Spanish get-ups would have a better appreciation. Amongst these were 16 lady bowlers from the South Australian Riverland who attended in identical Lola Montez costumes, while Warracknabeal’s Norz Belot ignited the Edge Hotel when she arrived as a fiery flamenco dancer. But perhaps the two most ingenious outfits came from Rupanyup regulars Car- men Isbel and Jan Arnold, who arrived as two of Spain’s national sporting heroes, cigar-toting golfer Miguel Án- gel Jiménez and tennis whiz Rafael Nadal. Awesome! Competing at the ‘DJ’ en- compasses the ultimate chal- lenge – one slip and you’re gone – it’s razors edge stuff - then it concludes with the sport’s undisputed ‘Social Event of the Year.’ That’s what makes it so unique .and win or lose these, gals really know how to party! • FOOTNOTE: David Al- len is founding editor of the popular Online Bowls magazine, which has a world-wide support base of 200,000 bowlers. Compelling finale to Dot Jenkinson Classic ADELAIDE-born Margo Bates made a big entrance to the inaugural Mildura Masters Games, as one of more than 600 competitors, on a crisp August day in 2001. Visually-impaired, and on the arm of a minder, the then 91-year-old was dressed in her familiar near full-length plastic garbage bag for warmth, and appeared to be strug- gling...until she hit the water! With her familiar double-handed tech- nique, Margo powered down the pool to blitz the opposition in the 400-metres backstroke, picking up a gold medal. It was an impressive start to the Mildu- ra Games...and not bad for someone who hadn’t taken up swimming until four years earlier, just after she turned 87! That was 13 years ago, and Mildura was one of the Games that gave Margo the urge and motivation to travel, for friendship and elite Masters competition. She rarely missed a State, national or in- ternational Masters Games since then, and was still swimming the 400 metres backstroke well after she turned 100. Margo Bates was a household name in Masters swimming circles, and her death in Adelaide two months ago is the end of an era in world swimming. She will be particularly missed by her Mildura swimming friends, who appreciated the time and effort that Mar- go always put in to ensure she was one of the first entries for the local Games. The Adelaide-born and educated great grandmother grew to adulthood as an enter- tainer, housekeeper, teacher, truck driver and stage dancer. She didn’t have much spare time for sport, especially swimming, hitting the pool for the first time in her life at 87, after learning of all the fun swimmers were having at Masters level. Winning wasn’t everything, but Margo certainly had her fair share of success through the years, and was almost at the magical 200 gold medal mark at the time of her death. It helped, of course, that many times Margot was the only one in her age group...the last thing on the minds of other 80 and 90-year-olds was competition swimming! Margo’s simple strategy Margo worked to a simple strategy...have a short breather at the end of the pool after each 50 metres, and it worked a treat. After seven laps, half-way down the final 50 metre stretch and ‘powering’ home, Margot always finished to roars from the crowd, and more often than not with a standing ovation. Out of the pool, Margo liked to kick on, and was often the life of the after-games party. She may have had problems with vision, and a little unsteady on her feet, but there was noth- ing wrong with her memory, or her sense of humour, and she had a joke list – and delivery – that would have put Phyllis Diller to shame. The man behind the inaugural Mildura Masters Games, Tubby Ramsay, 81, was a regu- lar at many of the games that Margo attended Australia-wide, and said she would be remem- bered with great fondness. He said Margo made many friends in Mil- dura, inside and outside of swimming, but many would have been unaware of the full life she led before the start of her swimming ‘career.’ Born Marjorie Matilda Bates on Novem- ber 16, 1910 in Adelaide, Margo married for the first time in 1929, aged 18, but the couple divorced six years later. She wed again, this time in Jerilderie, but was estranged after her husband returned from the war. Margo’s third marriage, this time back in Adelaide, ended with her husband’s death to cancer in 1969, and five years later – at 63 – Margo married again, to Robert Bates. Over the years, and through all four mar- riages, Margo lived an eventful, colourful and fun-filled life, at various times a housekeeper to three Catholic priests, she was a primary school teacher, a stage dancer at the Tivoli Theatre, spent the war years driving trucks, and in her 60s spent some time as an Eng- lish teacher in Portguese East Timor. She was living in the Riverland when she converted to the Baha’i faith, and that religion inspired her to devote much of her time to musical theatre and comedy, doing countless shows for the elderly and infirm, and for various charities. Her stage work took her overseas, to the spiritual headquarters of the Baha’i Faith in Haifa, Israel during the early 1970’s, and it was there, after learning of various swimming competitions, that Margo first expressed a de- sire to learn to swim. It took 20 years for Margo to achieve her goal, but even at 87 she was a quick learner, with strength and natural rhthym, and com- petition success came swiftly - and repeatedly - and the Mildura, and Australian, swimming world is richer for the contribution she made. In her 104th year when she died, Austra- lia’s oldest competitive swimmer, and Ade- laide’s oldest resident, was laid to rest by fam- ily and friends at the West Terrace Cemetery. War-time truck driver...teacher...stage dancer...housekeeper...four-times married - and multiple sporting gold medallist – life was just one adventure after another for Adelaide’s Margo Bates. Mildura was one of Margo’s favourite sporting venues over the years, and fellow Mildura Masters competitor ALAN ERSKINE remembers her as... The 104-year-old Queen of the pool • BOWLS AWAY: Irymple’s Anne Maree Clarke was seeking a second title at the most recent ‘DJ.’ • FINE FORM: Ouyen’s Jammy Vallance skipped her sister-in-law Deb into the semi finals. Deb Vallance was another Ouyen bowler to perform brilliantly at the ‘DJ.’ Head Office 424 San Mateo Avenue Mildura, Victoria, 3500 T (03) 5021 1777 F (03) 5021 1733 E email@example.com W www.milduraweekly.com.au Riverland Office 20 Kay Avenue, Berri, South Australia 5343 Available for just $20 at both Mildura & Riverland offices of the Mildura Weekly. Please note: Correct money needed at Riverland office.
Friday October 10 2014 Vol 8 No 49
Friday October 24 2014 Vol 8 No 51