Immense effort but rich rewards

By Laurel Stowell


2013 Masters Games manager Mike Cronin has had nothing but great feedback about the festive 10 days his team put on in Wanganui.

"Everyone has enjoyed themselves immensely and we've had fantastic weather, apart from that little glitch during the week.

"It's always a great, friendly time," he said.

The party atmosphere was strong on Saturday night, when the big marquee at the games village was packed with thousands listening to Auckland band Halo pound out the catchiest tunes of the last 30 years.

Many came dressed in togas with wreaths of leaves around their heads, following the games' Greek theme. They were clearly out for a good time and got rowdier as the night wore on.

Mr Cronin has had compliments about the standard of competition and about the games village in Springvale Park. People have laughed off the whiffs of odour from the city's wastewater treatment plant, and despite negative publicity of the last few years they were not worried about gangs threatening their safety.

"People walked to and from the village each evening, feeling quite safe to do that."

There were no deaths or serious injuries, and the weather bomb on Monday only disrupted a few sports temporarily.

Making it all work has been an immense effort.

There have been 120 volunteers working at the games village, and nearly 1000 helpers altogether across the games' 57 sports.

Those included little known pastimes such as bocce and euchre, as well as the more usual netball, football and golf.

Mr Cronin has yet to do detailed analysis on the numbers. But he said there were about 5300 games participants, with 62 per cent from out of town. About 170 came from overseas, mainly Australia.

They stayed with friends and family, in hotels, motels, backpackers and campgrounds. He even heard of families that vacated their houses and rented them out for the week.

Across all the participants there were 8000 to 9000 entries in the various sports.

The number of participants was down on 2011, which had nearly 6000. Mr Cronin said people probably didn't have as much spare cash this year.

He's predicting that the next Wanganui games, in 2015, will be a big one.

"There's a world Masters (Games) in Auckland in 2017. A lot of people will want to go to Wanganui to experience it before the worlds."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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