In homes around New Zealand, running shoes are being dusted off, darts polished and bikes fixed all in the name of preparation for the New Zealand Masters Games, this country’s largest multi-sport event.
Registrations are now open for the twenty-eighth NZ Masters Games, to be held in Whanganui from 3 to 12 February 2017.
The Whanganui Events Trust, the Games’ owner, expects around 5,000 competitors to descend on the city in February to compete across 50 sports. With the World Masters Games being scheduled for April 2017 in Auckland, the Whanganui games will provide a rich training ground for competitors to perfect their performances.
The NZ Masters Games has been running since 1989 and is hosted by Whanganui and Dunedin in alternate years. The Whanganui Events Trust has implemented some key changes to the format of the 2017 Games to keep it fresh and to attract more competitors.
"We have moved the Games Village from Springvale to the War Memorial Centre in town, where it will be transformed with a European-style square. The Village will play host to seminars, an Expo, several sports and entertainment, which non-competitors and the community will also be able to enjoy. In true Masters Games style, the social side of competition is also celebrated and encouraged. While we are promoting participating in sport throughout all stages of life, competition and camaraderie are equally celebrated," says Whanganui Events Trust CEO Kathy Cunningham.
Most competitors are aged between 35 and 85, with each sport specifying a minimum participation age.
"We have chosen 50 sports including marathon, touch rugby, table tennis golf, basketball, archery, athletics, blokart racing and Waka Ama. It is important that people realise you don’t need to be an elite athlete to compete, nor do you need to qualify. Just register online, get your sports gear on and come to Whanganui!" says Ms Cunningham.
In a NZ Masters Games first, a lavish opening ceremony will be held at Cooks Gardens, the site where Peter Snell broke the world record for the mile in 1964. "It will be a party like Whanganui hasn’t seen before, with world-class entertainment."
Games Ambassadors were announced at a launch event on Thursday night. Ambassadors include Grant Kereama from The Hits radio station and who is from Whanganui, indoor bowls champion Sean Johnson and retired NZ professional road and track cyclist Cath Cheatley.
"My love of cycling was born at the Masters Games. The Games took me from Whanganui, the home of cycling, to competing on roads and velodromes around the world. For me, Masters Games is about meeting great people and creating great memories. It is also an opportunity for people to hone their skills before the World Masters Games," says Cathy.
Hosting the Games also brings significant economic benefits to Whanganui city and the broader region, estimated to be between $2million and $5million.
To register and view what sports are available, visit the NZ Masters Games website: www.nzmg.com
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