Master Games competitor Pat Taylor
71 year old Pat Tayor has been competing in events at the Masters Games since 1992 and shows no sign of easing off.
Pat has just won a silver medal in the final of the 70-74 year olds squash open at the World Masters in Auckland, adding it to about 200 other medals she’s picked up in 15 years of Masters competition.
In Auckland she’s competing not just in squash, but also in the 20km cycle time trial, five swimming events (it would be more but the limit is five) and the cross-country. She would have done the triathlon but wasn’t able to get a guarantee from the squash officials that she’d be finished in time.
Over the years she’s tried her hand at ridge running, stair running, orienteering, triathlon and duathlon, and netball; the sport she played as a young girl growing up in Timaru. If that sounds a lot, Taylor also still works fulltime as an accountant in Tauranga through winter, shifting to part-time over summer.
But suggest to this 71-year-old grand mother that she is something of an over achiever and you get a steely glare back before she launches in a litany of reasons why she is just ordinary. “I’ve never been elite at anything. Never. I never made any rep teams or anything like that. I just love it. It’s not about winning medals, if it was then I wouldn’t do swimming" (she finished mid pack in her five races).
“I just love to swim, I love to cycle, I love running and I love playing squash. The hardest part is that I’m not part of a team.” An issue you sense will be corrected sooner, rather than later.
Taylor’s been competing at Masters Games since 1992 – back then as a netballer who took up squash aged 33. She’s added other sports along the way and is excited by cycling, which she reckons is “the new sport for oldies”.
“All my tramping friends used to laugh at me when I’d turn up for the tramp on my bike and now they’re all riding. You go further, see more and it’s less stress on the joints.”
And while Taylor is modest about her successes, she is also proud of her efforts in Auckland, especially on the bike where she finished second in the five in her age group, in a touch under 36 minutes. The time, she says, shows “we are not just bunnies out there”.
Taylor has her eye on the New Zealand Masters squash championship in September and the World Squash Masters in Virginia next year, which she’ll use as an excuse to see her son and two grandchildren in Denver.
It’s the absence of family in New Zealand (she has a daughter in Melbourne too) that is behind having a calendar chock full of sports events. “I’m compensating for not babysitting,” she says.
Then, after a moment to reflect, she admits having grand children around wouldn’t actually slow her down. “I’d just take them with me.”
Yes, the sight of Pat Taylor running with a children’s buggy in front of her is easy to imagine. There is simply no stopping some people.