Casina (Sien) Van Der Veeken of Whangarei has won the Sport & Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) Medal at Osteoporosis New Zealand’s annual You Deserve A Medal Awards, presented at Parliament recently.
The awards are open to all New Zealanders aged 65 years and over and aim to encourage older people to stay physically active – a key contributor to maintaining bone health.
Sien won the SPARC Medal for her outstanding sporting achievements. She is currently training for the Masters Games being held next month and will compete in the javelin, hammer, shot-put and discus. She also runs half and full marathons and enjoys walking and biking.
Sien frequently competes in the Round Taupo 160KM bike race, originally racing by herself, but now up to three generations of her family join her.
She says, "I am very involved in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives and sporting activities as well as the local community. It is important to have a balanced life and exercise is the key to keeping healthy.
"We all have differing levels of sporting ability but the most important thing is to get out there and 'just do it.’
John Reid, Manager of the Pathways team at SPARC says, “Sien epitomises the message that age is no barrier to either performance or participation.”
Chair of Osteoporosis New Zealand, Claire Mackintosh said: “It is essential that we recognise these inspirational individuals who make an effort to stay physically active and look after their bones. The awards evening is a tribute to the four recipients success, with a real feel good factor felt by all on this momentous occasion. Our ‘You Deserve a Medal’ awards take place during Osteoporosis Awareness Week and it is amazing that year after year we continue to receive such inspirational nominations for the awards – testament to the many older Kiwis who make it a priority to stay fit and active.”
Executive Director of Osteoporosis New Zealand, Julia Gallagher says, “A bone healthy diet and regular exercise offer so many benefits to our health from an overall improved sense of wellbeing to helping prevent falls through improved balance and muscle strength.
“Keeping fit also slows bone loss and reduces the risk of osteoporosis – a disease that affects about half of Kiwi women and nearly one third of men over the age of 60 years.”
The awards were presented this year by Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson and Osteoporosis New Zealand’s ‘bone ambassadors’ Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell.