RIGHT from tip-off, Helen Rieniets keeps moving. Ms Rieniets has been suiting up for Hawks (formerly known as Ladybirds) in Ladies’ Thursday morning basketball at the Minerdome for almost 45 years now. She celebrated her 70th birthday earlier this week, making sure to be back on the floor on Thursday. Along with friend Carmel Kavanagh, they are the oldest women playing in the competition.
Basketball is her key, Ms Rieniets says, to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. Ms Rieniets started in a team of young mums, and continues to play alongside and against young mums.
Story by Melanie Whelan at The Courier
“It’s always been a social group. We’ve always met once a week but the group has changed over the years,” Ms Rieniets said. “…Now some mothers who played have their daughters coming along to play. Regardless of how good you are, it’s just an enjoyable day.
“But you keep moving, no walking, and we play a 45-minute game.” Ms Rieniets picked up the game for the first time in her 20s, to join a social group. Off the court, Ms Rieniets remains involved in elite sports as an international standard athletics official.
Ms Rieniets considers herself lucky enough to officiate in the Commonwealth and Olympics Games. Last summer, Ms Rieniets was in action for the inaugural high-energy Nitro Series, athletics events grouping stars and emerging contenders in teams to compete against each other.
A long-time Ballarat YCW official and committee member, Ms Rieniets said athletics required a strong focus. “I do mostly the field events, jumps and throws, so there’s always different things to do,” Ms Rieniets said. “But all of the meets require the same concentration, from the bigger ones to club events – you treat everyone exactly the same.”
Ms Rieniets said it all helped to keep fit. She encouraged other seniors top get active and keep moving and planned to keep playing basketball as long as she could “still get up and down”.
Ms Rieniets said women of all ages and ability to welcome to join her on the court at the Minerdome, every Thursday morning