100-year-old Vancouverite set to become world's oldest curler

Lola Holmes recently celebrated her 100th birthday. On Monday, the Vancouver Curling Club will honour her with a lifetime membership.

'I always made curling a priority for my health,' says centenarian Lola Holmes

Lola Holmes at her home on Vancouver's West Side. Holmes recently turned 100 and is set to become the world's oldest curler. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

The Guinness Book of World Records has nominated a Vancouver woman to officially become the world's oldest curler. 

On Sept. 16, Lola Holmes celebrated her 100th birthday along with more than 130 friends and family. On Monday, she'll hit the ice for the season's first practice, and the Vancouver Curling Club will honour her with a lifetime membership. 

"I always made curling a priority for my health," Holmes said from her West Side home, which she shares with her 95-year-old brother. 

"I'm very fortunate, but I think most people are capable of doing a lot more than they think they can do."

Vancouverite Lola Holmes celebrated her 100th birthday with about 130 friends and family at the Vancouver Curling Club. (Vancouver Curling Club)

Aubrey Holmes, one of her two sons, says Guinness is currently verifying his mother's eligibility for the title. 

"It's an inspiration to everybody in the family," he said. 

'Everybody's in such a hurry'

Lola Holmes is small but surprisingly spry for a centenarian — she moves around her home with the agility and precision of someone about 20 years younger.

Which is, coincidentally, about how old she says she feels. 

Holmes was born on a farm in Luseland, Sask., where she grew up. A doctor came by horse and buggy to attend her birth. 

Lola Holmes worked as a nurse. She started curling again after she retired. (Lola Holmes)

She remembers going to school as a child and running to the windows with her classmates when the first planes flew across the sky. 

"We played, we had a wonderful time, we loved our family, we had family dinners. Now it's just fast food. Grab it, run. Everybody's in such a hurry. I don't know why," she said. 

First curl at 25

Holmes says she trained to become a nurse at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing in Toronto. 

She first curled when she was 25 and living in Sudbury with her late husband, Sid Holmes, whom she met in university. But working as a registered nurse while raising two boys meant she had to give the sport up after a year. 

After the pair retired, they moved to Vancouver to help care for her mother, who lived to be three months shy of her 100th birthday. 

Lola Holmes, 100, is set to become the world's oldest curler. (Vancouver Curling Club)

Holmes took up curling again about 20 years ago, when she was in her early 80s. She says she wanted to keep active and make friends.  

"My love of curling includes the skill, the exercise and the sociability with friends on the ice. It's an excellent way to keep the mind and the body active," Holmes said. 

In winter, Holmes curls twice a week with a senior's league — in the off-season she does tai chi. Aubrey said she also walks 45 minutes a day.

Until recently she also swam, but after having a pace maker put in last year, she says she now gets too out of breath. Holmes also plays bridge four times a week to keep her mind active. 

She attributes her long life to keeping mentally and physically active and being health-conscious. 

"I've never smoked — [but] I love my sherry," she said. 

Triple takeout

After a few years on the ice, she underwent surgery for carpel tunnel on both her hands. The surgeon told her she would never curl again. She disagreed. 

Instead, she switched to stick curling — rather than bending over to pick up the rock, she pushes it with a stick attached to the handle. 

Holmes says one of the highlights of her curling career was a bonspiel at the Vancouver Curling Club in 2011. 

"I made a triple takeout that become the talk of the whole event," she said. 

As for how much longer she'll be curling for, her son Aubrey is hopeful. He thinks she's got another five to 10 years in her.

"There's a good possibility she'll outlive me," he said, laughing. 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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