Masters event sets table for possible NZ Commonwealth Games

Anthony Mosse, former Olympic swimmer representing New Zealand, merchant banker and honorary consul for New Zealand in San Francisco. Photo/NZ Herald
Anthony Mosse, former Olympic swimmer representing New Zealand, merchant banker and honorary consul for New Zealand in San Francisco. Photo/NZ Herald

Former Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimming hero Anthony Mosse hopes the upcoming World Masters Games act as a springboard for another NZ-based Commonwealth Games bid.

The age-group competition, scheduled for April 21-30 in Auckland, is billed as the world's largest multi-sport event, featuring 28 sports and 45 disciplines.

Mosse, who won two Commonwealth Games gold medals (1986 & 1990) and an Olympic bronze (1988) as a butterfly exponent, has been named as a World Masters Games ambassador and hints the 10-day festival could be a forerunner to even bigger things.

Namely, hosting another Commonwealth Games.

"I would hope we give it serious consideration," Mosse told Radio Sport's Mark Watson.

"If we're able to put together a competition, which I believe we will, where we don't have to go out and spend a chunk of change on brand new facilities and its managed well, then I think that bodes well for us to be really thinking about this."

New Zealand last hosted the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990, where Mosse captured gold in the 200m butterfly.

Swimmer Anthony Mosse swimmer carrying the New Zealand flag at the opening ceremony of the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Photo/NZ Herald
Swimmer Anthony Mosse swimmer carrying the New Zealand flag at the opening ceremony of the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Photo/NZ Herald

"That was my last experience and I think we pulled it off well," he said. "We have some of the best sport administrators on the planet and I think we should give it a shot."

But Mosse, who has gone on to a successful San Francisco-based business career since retiring from the pool, warns any future Commonwealth Games may need a different model.

"It's got to be national. It's got to be the entire country thinking about it.

"I don't know if it necessarily needs to be in one city. I have heard that as a suggestion, not just for New Zealand by the way, and if it makes sense, we'd love to have it."

These days, Mosse is vice president and treasurer for Virgin American, and also New Zealand honorary consul.

The next Commonwealth Games is scheduled for next year on Queensland's Gold Coast, with the 2002 edition already allocated to Durban, South Africa.

Any future New Zealand bid would be for 2026 at the earliest.

"If it makes sense, but it needs to make sense," says Mosse. "At the end of the day, government, local body and communities ... these things aren't free to put on and I think you've got to take a common-sense approach to it and a lot of homework has to be done.

"There are impacts on the local community. Some people love it, but some people would rather not have buses and people running up and down streets outside their house.

"But I'm hopeful. If it's pulled off well, and I have every expectation that it will, it bodes well for us to hold other multi-sport international competitions."

Even as the Commonwealth Games seem to lose significance on the international sporting stage, Mosse remains a strong proponent for them as a means of grooming athletes for the Olympics.

"I think the Commonwealth Games play a really important role for New Zealand sport," he says. "The Olympic Games are the pinnacle for many, many athletes, but the opportunities for Kiwis to get to the top are very few and far between.

"The Commonwealth Games give us a chance to feel good as a nation. Teams do well and we obviously get on the dais with far more frequency.

"It's a wonderful stepping stone for teams and for individuals to get ready for that Olympic level.

Some of them may not ever get to Olympic level, so Commonwealths might be the pinnacle for them."

- NZ Herald

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