Wairarapa veterans limber up

By David Ogilvie

Masters Games

From Pahiatua in the north, to the Tin Hut - and further - in the south, Wairarapa's Masters athletes are preparing to get to the starting gate for the New Zealand Masters Games in Wanganui next February.

At the start of this week 82 Wairarapa people had registered at Wanganui's Games headquarters out of a total of 2697 entrants - up 23 per cent on last year's Games.

That is one positive aspect from this very dull economy - perhaps like the 15 per cent increase in service industry takings (entertainment etc), we have reached the stage of needing some light-hearted relief, and Master Games certainly offer a mixture of the serious and the fun.

At the same time, people can use Wanganui as a dry run for the first World Masters Games to be held in New Zealand - in Auckland in 2017. Neither Wanganui nor Dunedin, who alternate for the NZ Masters, were big enough to hold this event, which with 35,000 competitors, is vastly bigger than the Olympics

Wairarapa does, at this stage, hold the honour of having this year's oldest entrant.

Eketahuna's Monica Sutherland is in her 90s and will play euchre. A gold medallist in 2011, she can count on plenty of family support.

Forty-one-year-old Tracey Smith is playing euchre with her nana. Nothing unusual in that, but last time (2011) they were the youngest - and oldest - to take euchre golds at the event. If they combine to win the pairs this time, it will be a remarkable story.

In fact Monica won the 90-years-plus singles gold at the Wanganui Masters in 2011 while grand-daughter Tracey took the 35-39 age-group singles gold. They'll play again in their respective singles - and then play pairs.

Wairarapa has representation in the more active sports - football among them. The Rapa Renegades feature a bunch from the South Wairarapa, many of them from Greytown, while the area's famed iconic Tin Hut is represented by a team organised by Trish Morison, including Ken Camden, Richard Fail, Colin Osborne, Mark Reason and Lui Sami.

Members of the Renegades include Dave Butler-Peck, Nick Duggan, Paolo Frisone, Graham Hunt, Dean Jansen, Darren Kerr, Simon Penfold, Peter Sykes, Stacey Trask, and Dean Southey.

Trish Morison says the Tin Hut line-up consists of players who are pretty much all from South Wairarapa.

"We have players in their 40s, 50s and 60s and all are club players who are still playing. All were strong players in their day and while claiming to be social, are pretty competitive when they get out on the field."

Pahiatua has eight indoor bowlers joining Gavin Traill (Eketahuna) as area reps at the Games. They are Ian and Yvonne Crighton, Karen Cuming and Mike Fouhy, Gordon and Maureen Dick, and Karl and Marie Schroder.

Peter Tearle, 84, will walk his distinctive style on the track, along with Robyn Weston, while Masterton's Coral Ann van Wijk will attack the field events.

The Masterton Prologs will field a sevens hockey team, players including Jan Fitzgerald, Anne-Marie Nikolaison, Jaqueline Reiri and Megan Simpson while John McKinstry and Donald Rankin will compete in clay target shooting.

There is plenty of time left for further entries. Cost is $60 up until January 11, and $85 after that. Have a look at www.nzmg.com


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