It was fitting that the last medal presentation in athletics at this year's Downer New Zealand Masters Games was presented to Jim Blair of Silverstream.

Blair, 86, has been a huge servant of the sport.

He was president of Athletics New Zealand in 2010 and 2011 and is also a life member.

He served on the IAAF veterans committee for 12 years representing Oceania and was awarded the MNZM in 2012 for his contribution to the sport.


He has contributed in all areas of the sport from presenting run, jump, throw to children, officiating at all levels and making huge contributions to the Masters Games athletics movement as an administrator, official and competitor.

Only a year ago, he returned from the World Indoor Masters with a whole clutch of medals.

He was busy as usual over the weekend competing in a wide range of disciplines, but still found time to help officials.

Blair represents the true spirit of the sport and of the Masters Games. It was therefore fitting that he was the last athlete to mount the podium at 8.30pm on Monday after winning gold in the final hammer throw.

The three days of athletics at the weekend were blessed with warm sunny conditions with a particularly spectacular Sunday.

However, Saturday's athletes had to contend with strong gusty winds, which were thankfully favourable for the sprinters.

It was great to welcome back so many returning athletes, many of whom have competed in a lot of the 30 years of the Masters Games.

The durability, versatility and perseverance of so many never ceases to amaze me. Also impressive was the level of performance of so many, especially in the older age groups.

Laurie Malcolmson again impressed in sprinting on his return to yet another Games at Cooks Gardens.


Malcolmson highlighted his versatility, stepping off the top of the podium for his win in the 60m, crossing to the javelin and returning 30 minutes later to receive another medal.

Once again young Whanganui athletes gave huge assistance, fetching and carrying, raking pits, holding tape measures and presenting medals.

The smiling and willing assistance added much to the positive experience of older athletes. It also was an illustration to the young athletes of the amount of work that goes into organising their sport.

The younger athletes shared with those in the Games when the normal Tuesday evening events were transferred to Monday in an evening with encouragingly large fields in many events, none more so than the 2000m Road Race which had 43 starters.

There were also some excellent races notably the 600m, when after a slow first 200m Travis Bayler, Joseph Sinclair, Zach Bellamy and Karl Loeb broke away from the bunch.

New Zealand Schools 800m silver medal winner Sinclair outkicked New Zealand Schools 400m gold medal winner Bayler to win in 1:26.36. Zach Bellamy gained a confidence-building personal best in third place (1:28.84).

There was an equally good 600m girls' race with New Zealand Schools 400m winner Emma Osborne outsprinting New Zealand Schools 1500m silver medal winner and New Zealand Schools cross-country international Rebecca Baker.

Osborne's winning time was 1:43.31. Another New Zealand Schools cross-country representative Sarah Lambert was third.

Osborne moved straight from the 600m over to the 300m, recording a win over the in-form 100m sprinter Sophie Williams recording a respectable 42.55 seconds.

Genna Maples opted to run in mixed races to increase the depth of competition and was rewarded with wins over both 60m and 150m with good respective performances of 8.01s and 19.15.

In male sprints, Jonathan Maples held off the challenge of Connor Maples after a great battle over 150m.

A group of 30 Whanganui athletes travel north to Hamilton this weekend to compete in the Porritt Classic which has attracted large entries.

The Porritt Classic has a strong schools team element with a team 1500m race for boys and girls and a medley relay over 1500m.

The Willis Relay that celebrates Nick Willis' 1500m running comprises of a 300m leg followed by three 400m legs.

The classic provides a great early team opportunity for school athletes and it is pleasing that Whanganui High School have entered the boys' division in both events.

They have a very strong team in the Willis Relay with Connor Munro, Travis Bayler and Karl Loeb.

They also run in the 1500m team race where they will be joined by a strong Whanganui Collegiate School team who seek to retain the Dick Quax trophy.

Collegiate also defend the girls' Willis trophy with two strong combinations entered.