What do an ex-international cricketer, a Canadian DJ, an Honorary Consul from San Francisco, a former Silver Fern and the man known as ‘Mr Touch’ have in common?
As of today (17 February), they’re all competitors in the World Masters Games 2017, the world’s largest multi-sport event that kicks off in Auckland in just over a year.
Registrations are now open for next year’s Games. Sports-lovers from all walks of life are encouraged to sign up and take part in one of the 28 sports on offer.
Council-controlled organisation, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, is planning and delivering the 2017 games.
World Masters Games 2017 Chief Executive, Jennah Wootten, says the Games are open to all masters athletes, regardless of sporting ability.
“For some people, the World Masters Games is about taking on international competition and winning gold. For others, it’s more about travelling to the host country to celebrate and enjoy sport with like-minded people,” she says.
“Right now, not many New Zealanders know about the World Masters Games because we haven’t hosted one before. But we’re hoping about 12,000 Kiwis will step up and join in, because we’re a sporting nation, and sport is what we do so well.”
A diverse mix of competitors
Ms Wootten says the first 10 athletes hint at the diversity of the Games.
“Participants typically range from masters sporting greats, former Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners, to amateur athletes and teams who are together because they enjoy sport and want to have fun,” she says.
“In addition to 12,000+ New Zealanders, we are expecting more than 12,000 international competitors, with half of those coming from Australia. Even though competitors don’t represent their country, there tends to be a great deal of patriotism involved.
"We hope Kiwis will embrace the Games, so that visiting athletes feel our warm welcome but also our competitive spirit!”
First 10 competitors named
Former New Zealand cricketer and Rugby World Cup 2011 CEO Martin Snedden will compete in golf as participant number 00001. He is joined by nine fellow sports people who collectively represent the first 10 WMG2017 participants:
- Anthony Mosse (swimming) – US-based former Kiwi Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist returning home to enjoy both a social and competitive WMG2017
- Allison Roe (rowing) – New Zealand’s athletics golden girl is moving out of her comfort zone into a completely new sport for WMG 2017 – single sculls rowing
- Duane Kale (swimming) – four gold medals and four world records at the 1996 Paralympics marked him as one of our greatest para-athletes
- Jenny Holliday (softball) – The fastest Olympic woman softball pitcher, and a firm believer in the spirit of sport
- Peter Walters (touch) - New Zealand’s Mr Touch is a regular winner at masters games at home and overseas, a world renowned coaching icon and firm believer in the sport for life ethos
- Bob Thomas (football) - His social football team has fronted up at three previous WMGs, won a medal last time out, and is once again determined to have a ball on and off the field.
- Anna Stanley (track) - Silver Fern Captain, who will lead a 4 x 400 metre track relay team ‘Flabs not Abs’, who is looking forward to the Games’ camaraderie and taking on the Aussies once again
- Jude Kelly (basketball) - Canadian masters basketball supremo and DJ who can’t wait to defend his team’s (the Stooges) WMG2013 title
- Moira Gerken (netball) - Southland netballer whose team members have been playing with, or against, each other for 30 years and are relishing the chance to compete in their first WMG.
Open to all levels
As with all other World Masters Games, there is generally no need to qualify or be selected to compete.
As long as you are over the minimum age for your chosen sport, and meet the minimum disability classification requirements in the case of para-sports, you can take part.
Auckland footballer Bob Thomas and his “Mum’s Mob” team mates are World Masters Games regulars. They are looking forward to competing against global footballing rivals in their own backyard.
“Auckland 2017 will be the fourth World Masters Games the team has competed in. We’ve always looked forward to our four-yearly travel to some interesting destinations. But we’re equally excited to have the opportunity to show off on our own patch,” says Bob.
Martin Snedden says the World Masters Games sends an important message – that sport is for life, and available to all.
“We are a sporting nation, but participation in competitive sport tends to wane with age. This event demonstrates that, whether you are 25 or 95, you have the ability to set sporting goals and achieve them.
“When it comes to golf I’m no world beater, but I’m stepping up, and challenge all those who are passionate about sport to join me in having a go.”
An incredible 10-day line-up
The World Masters Games were founded in 1985 with the first held in Toronto, Canada. The last two Games were held in Sydney in 2009 and Turin, Italy, in 2013.
The New Zealand Games feature 28 sports and 45 disciplines with competition scheduled to take place over 10 consecutive days from 21-30 April 2017. The entry age is different for each sport, ranging from 25+ in swimming to 40 for dragon boating (a canoe discipline). Competitors generally compete in their own age group.
To coincide with registrations opening, World Masters Games 2017 has also announced three new ambassadors. They are well-known para-athlete Duane Kale, Australian softball legend Jenny Holliday and Canadian basketball masters supremo Jude Kelly.
The trio join International Goodwill Ambassador Lord Sebastian Coe and 14 further ambassadors - Hamish Carter, Anthony Mosse, Jenny-May Clarkson, Garth Barfoot, Susie Simcock, Bryan Williams, Allison Roe, Cory Hutchings, Noah Hickey, Anna Stanley, Mark Orams, Nathan Twaddle, Hugh McCutcheon and Sarah Fitz-Gerald.
Registrations for the Games close 31 January, 2017. Places in some sports are capped, so those interested should act promptly. Vist World Masters Games for more information about the Games, the sports, pricing and payment options.