From a distance it would be easy to mistake the athlete training at Tauranga Domain for one of the young guns that have made Tauranga famous for sprinting.

But although nowhere near as quick as New Zealand's fastest pair in Joseph Miller or Kodi Harman, Bruce Solomon still cuts an impressive figure on the track for a 54-year-old.

That smooth, effortless style is what he hopes will power him to gold medals at the World Masters Games that begin in Auckland today.

The expat South African competes for Tauranga Ramblers and is one of the favoured runners in the 50-54 age group sprint events after dominating his division at New Zealand and Oceania levels in recent seasons.

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He will be competing against younger men in his age group at his first World Masters Games.

"It is going to be a phenomenal event. We are very privileged to have it here in Auckland. I am competing in the 100, 200, 400, long jump, discus, javelin plus two relay events of 4x100 and 4x400," Solomon said.

"Personal goals and aspirations? I would love to medal in the 100 and 200 as the sprints are what I focus on and I think we have a pretty good chance of medalling in the relays.

"But then we haven't seen what the competitors are going to throw together but that is all part of the fun of being in Masters Games. It is serious but as well as a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to that."

Like all athletes "getting on a bit", Solomon's biggest worry is injury.

"When you get into the competitive level your mind is always willing and it is pushing but your body takes a little while to catch up and if you are not doing things correctly you can just throw something out quite easily.

"But that is the joy of sport and that is the same for everyone. You just have to be cleverer than the rest of them I suppose."

Solomon has every reason to be confident of doing well at the superb athletics venue of Trusts Stadium in west Auckland.

Last month at the New Zealand Masters Games he competed in seven events and won seven gold medals.

"I am quite privileged to say in this age group to still be performing and winning golds. I am looking forward to moving into the next age division of 55 to 59 next year and keep the momentum going and crack a few records."

Solomon feels a responsibility for the good of the sport to encourage others to get involved at any age.

"I think it is up to athletes like myself who belong to masters athletics to encourage others to join their local club and that will help boost the regions but also nationally as well."


World Masters Games, April 21-30, Auckland

The World Masters Games is the world's largest multisport event. Held every four years, it is the pinnacle sporting event for masters competitors worldwide.
The 9th World Masters Games in Auckland involves 28 sports and 45 disciplines with 26,000 athletes from more than 100 countries in the city for 10 days of sporting challenge and excitement.
Most Masters sports have a minimum age of 35.