Athletes urged to get in early for World Masters Games

Don't wait around Kiwis - that's the friendly warning from the World Masters Games boss.

Registrations for the Masters Games, to be held in New Zealand for the first time next year, open today and the event's chief executive Jennah Wootten says Kiwi competitors aiming to enter cannot afford to be tardy.

"Competitors can sign up from today at worldmastersgames2017.co.nz/," said Wootten.

"We expect more than 12,000 competitors to come from overseas and we want at least that number of Kiwis to take them on.

"Many of the tens of thousands overseas athletes on our database are World Masters Games regulars who go to every edition of the Games around the world and will be keen to secure places in Auckland.

"Kiwis who are keen to have a go are advised to sign up quickly as some sports have restricted numbers due to venue availability. A few examples of these are softball, football and golf."

The Games will be held in the Auckland and Waikato areas in April next year.

The event caters for 28 sports with Wootten saying the Games are open to all masters athletes, regardless of sporting capability.

"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.

"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 plus 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."

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 Torino in 2013.

The New Zealand event features 28 sports and 45 disciplines with competition scheduled to take place over 10 consecutive days from April 21-30.

The entry age is different for each sport, ranging from 25 plus in swimming to 40 for dragon boat (a canoe discipline). Competitors generally compete in their own age group.

- NZ Herald

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