Geoffery Bell of Clearwater recently won the title of singles gold medal champion at the 30th world singles shuffleboard championship in Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada, competing against 80 players from nine countries.
In the final match, he bested 16-year-old top-ranked Torben Hussman of Germany to take the title.
It was Bell's first time competing at the international level. He applied to play for the Canadian team and was accepted.
Of the tournament, the 69-year old said, "It was quite an intense four days. These guys are so good, if you make one mistake, they'll make you pay the price. You have to be sharp and on your toes. Being focused is the key to winning."
Bell and his wife, Sylvia, began spending winters in Florida 15 years ago after his retirement. They summer in Shediac, New Brunswick, which is about 20 miles from Dieppe, where the championship was held.
Bell has always been a sports enthusiast, participating in hockey, football, baseball and a lot of racket sports.
"I ate, slept and drank sports in school," he said. "It really helps a person learn how to win and lose."
He also had an affinity for curling, and he noted that its strategy is similar to shuffleboard's.
He played his first shuffleboard game shortly after arriving in Florida — against a 90-year-old woman who lived in his mobile home park.
"She beat me like 100 to 5," he admitted. "I told my wife, 'I'm either going to get better at this or give it up!' "
Bell served as president of the Clearwater Shuffleboard Club for five years and has been the West Coast District Masters champion a number of times.
When he isn't on the court, the retired school principal helps his son operate an international coin auction company called Geoffrey Bell Auctions.
"Winning this championship was a big thrill for me, but unexpected," said Bell, who hopes to defend his title in 2013 at the 31st world singles championships scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg.