A group of Tauranga Ramblers have a raid on the medal cabinet at the Oceania Masters Games firmly in their sights.

Michelle Bitcheno, Sally Gibbs and Bruce Solomon are among the Tauranga-based athletes looking forward to pitting their skills against Oceania's best in Dunedin from January 20-27.

The two-yearly event has attracted athletes from right across the Pacific as well as Australia and New Zealand. Tauranga hosted the iconic week-long tournament in 2012.

For Bitcheno, 43, it will be a chance to show off her skills at her first Oceania games in her more recent field event of hammer throw. The previous shot put and discus exponent decided to try her luck at one of the most difficult of all field events.


"It is really technical so you know when you have done a really good throw because it goes out really easy. I have only been doing it for 12 months. When I picked it up last year I was too scared to swing it around my head because it is going to hit me," she said.

Bitcheno is the best in the world for 2018 in her 43-44 age group after last week's World First Champion of Champions Hammer Throw Competition held in Edgecumbe where she threw the 4kg hammer 30.22m.

"I won my age group which made me number one in the world. It has been a week and I am still number one so I am happy," she laughed.

"As long as I PB in Dunedin I will be happy. Hopefully I will come away with a gold in the hammer."

Solomon has also made a change to what he usually competes in, adding the arduous decathlon to his specialist sprint events in Dunedin.

"I am focusing on the decathlon. Sprints are so quick and you kind of hang round for the rest of the day. I started dabbling in a couple of the field events and enjoyed them," he said.

"I just turned 55 in December so I am fresh out of the blocks in the new age group. I have 16 individual events to do over four days, with 10 taken up with the decathlon. It will be a test on the body.

"It is my fourth one and I do like going to the Oceanias. I have been doing some training so hopefully I can set some records and set myself some targets going forward."

Middle distance runner Gibbs, 54, competed at the 2012 Oceania Masters Games held in Tauranga.

"It was great having it on our home turf and it was really well supported. I enjoyed it because I did some good times here and being on your own home turf is always going to be a plus," she said.

In Dunedin Gibbs is contesting the 1500m and half marathon.

"I like them all [events] not just Masters but it is a tremendous atmosphere at Masters. It doesn't matter who you are, how good you are, you never feel inadequate. It is just really a great camaraderie and atmosphere, and as much competition as you want.

"Sometimes you do need some international athletes to have that competition."