The sun shone for six straight days as close to 11,000 young athletes took to the field, the court, the track, the pool and just about every other sporting arena imaginable.

The 15th Anchor AIMS Games – a week in which old records were broken and new friendships were forged – are over.

They were the biggest and best yet, according to tournament director Vicki Semple.

"It's just been absolutely sensational," she said yesterday.


Semple said the good weather definitely contributed to the buzz around town, but so did the engagement and hospitality of the Tauranga public.

"It just feels like such a community event, with so much community pride."

She said the atmosphere at the various venues was infectious and the media attention unprecedented.

"People are really getting into the spirit of the games. It really is just an absolute celebration of youth sport."

In each of the 22 codes – from indoor bowls and cross country, to rock climbing, rugby sevens, hockey and more – there were champions, runners-up, displays of heroic sportsmanship and moments of individual brilliance.

There were so many inspiring stories to be told.

Stories like Pool Runnings, the four Tongan swimmers who swam their way into the hearts of everyone at BayWave.

Stories like Charlie Goodhue, the 12-year-old with a heart condition who was desperate to take part and so picked up indoor bowls and loved every minute of it.


Semple said the para-sports was one her personal highlights, for the second year in a row.

"They're amazing those kids; they're absolutely incredible. They blow me away."

Another highlight of hers was the schools that went the extra mile to get to Tauranga.

"That haven't been able to afford it and really stepped up to give their kids an experience that they'll never forget. My hat goes off to those people and communities."

Semple thanked the local billets who hosted athletes and teams and the many volunteers who ensured everything ran smoothly.

The 2018 Anchor AIMS Games is also one to remember because it is Brian Diver's last.

The co-founder of what has become the largest sporting event for 11-13-year-olds in the Southern Hemisphere is retiring as both chairman of the AIMS Games Trust and principal of Tauranga Intermediate.

"I can't praise Brian enough," Semple said.

"He's such an amazing man, such an incredible educationalist. His passion for children and sport is incredible and is a testament to why the AIMS Games are so good."

Diver said it was a nostalgic day for him yesterday.

"But at the same time, it's not about me, it's about adolescent youth and adolescent sport and a week like this – the community can sit back and be very encouraged and have faith and optimism in the youth for the future."

He said the more than 10,800 athletes who took part at AIMS this year personified the best attributes of what a community wants in its young people.

"Their sportsmanship was absolutely fantastic; we didn't have one dispute over thousands of games.

"This is the best AIMS Games yet because it's been exemplified through superb organisation and of course just backed up with this great week of weather."

Tauranga Intermediate also managed to send Diver off in the best possible way, winning the most medals and finishing on top of the table.