Athletes were focused on the sports grounds, supporters were loud on the sidelines and volunteers were busy behind the scenes. The 16th annual AIMS Games wouldn't have been what it was without the children, their families and the team of organisers who made it all happen. There were tears and there were cheers over the last six days as thousands of athletes pitted themselves against the best of the best in their age group. Reporter Zoe Hunter talks to those at the forefront of the competition about some of their favourite highlights of the city's biggest intermediate-aged sports tournament.
Records have been broken, friendships forged and memories made at this year's AIMS Games, which wrapped up this week.
The 16th annual intermediate-aged sports tournament invited more than 11,500 athletes from 368 schools across New Zealand and the Pacific to Tauranga during the last six days.
The tournament is expected to pump about $3 million into the local economy.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the biggest highlight of this year's tournament was the sportsmanship, particularly on finals day.
"It seems the supporters have really focused on cheering the positives, while the teams have gone out of their way to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat," she said.
"It is a beautiful thing to see and it sets these kids up for outstanding lifetime habits."
However, Semple said this year had its challenges.
"I know there was a lot of concern from people about the measles outbreak," she said.
"But most people retained a sense of perspective and realised we are an open, vibrant city that has a huge amount of tourism and visitor influx anyway."
Semple said "massive awareness" was created around the importance of vaccinations throughout the tournament and were grateful for Toi Te Ora Public Health's clear, accurate advice and information.
But Semple was proud of the AIMS Games team for helping to pull the even together and appreciated the community's support.
"I really want to thank all the residents of Tauranga, who continue to open their homes and support this event," she said.
Some of the biggest medal hauls were brought home by local athletes from Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School and Tauranga Intermediate School.
Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School, which had about 360 students competing, won at least two cups and 22 medals across a number of sporting codes.
Principal Henk Popping said the trophies were claimed in the cross country and girls six-aside hockey yesterday. Popping, who is the tournament's newest chairperson, said the highlight for him was the "positive buzz" in all of the sports offered and the camaraderie between schools and teams.
"Every student and school I have spoken to over the week commented on the experiences their students have had in meeting new people," he said.
"They also spoke about the support from our Tauranga community and the memories they will take home from such a fantastic event."
Another highlight was seeing the commitment, organisation and support of everyone involved, he said.
Tauranga Intermediate School principal Cameron Mitchell was proud of his students' efforts in the AIMS.
"They are out there representing their school," Mitchell said.
"It is all down to their hard work and support from their coaches and whanau."
Mitchell said the AIMS Games was vital for intermediate-aged children.
"It represents everything we want to teach our students through hard work, teamwork and resilience," he said.