Games can survive crowded schedule

By Jared Smith

A 2015 Masters Games competitor receives her prize at Cooks Gardens.
A 2015 Masters Games competitor receives her prize at Cooks Gardens.

The New Zealand Masters Games organising bodies chief executive is confident that wet weather and a world championship in 77 days time will not bite the Whanganui hosted event too badly ahead of the start of competition tomorrow.

Events Trust chief executive Kathy Cunningham is estimating that with any last minute registrations the total entry for this year's 28th annual event will be somewhere between 4250 to 4390, "which makes me happy".

The 26th edition of the games in Whanganui 2015 attracted over 5000 competitors and supporters for nine days of competition, including 1600 locals.

One possible deterrent this year was the World Masters Games in Auckland, which will attract 25,000 entries for 100 countries, starting April 21.

With expenses always a factor, many upper North Island sports people may prefer to skip Whanganui to cover some of their entry fees into the international event, however Cunningham said there is room on the plate to do both.

"The Masters Games in Whanganui is a bargain.

"To use these games to test your fitness levels for the world's...is the perfect measure.

"Some people are doing that, but I hoped for more."

The action starts on Saturday with a mix of team sports such as basketball, touch rugby, softball and six-a-side football, as well as individual events like the athletics programme, cycling, motocross, and duathlon.

In addition to this, there will also be the more fun participation events like rock 'n roll at the games village, which for the first time has been moved away from the large tent village at Springvale and into the town centre to more amenities for accessible.

"A Masters Games is an interesting dynamic because you have the sport and the social, and our goal is to integrate the community," said Cunningham.

"We're just going to get better at this. War Memorial Centre is the new 'tent'."

It appears the weather gods may be more willing to play along this year, at least for the first of the two weekends, with yesterday's driving rain expected to dissipate.

"We're fine. Tomorrow [Friday] afternoon, opening ceremony, which is free, it will be clear by noon."

The opening ceremony begins at Cooks Gardens at 6pm this evening, which will include the entry march, kapa haka, and demonstration of games sports like dog handling, blokarting, archery, and football

This will be followed by a fly-past from four T-6C Texan aircraft from RNZAF Base Ohakea, then everyone will walk from the ground to the War Memorial Centre.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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