The World Masters Games are coming to New Zealand from April 21 – 30, 2017. Do not underestimate either the massive size or the performance level of this Olympic Committee-endorsed, international sporting beast.
The reason for the heads up two years out, is that the Masters Games are not for the faint-hearted or the under-trained, so if you’re debating whether to compete, best you get your skates/lycra/shoes on now.
Particularly inviting is that there is no qualification required for the World Masters Games which makes for a competitive yet social atmosphere, and one that refreshingly includes a number of para-sports, and disciplines like orienteering and touch rugby. For a list of the sports on offer see www.worldmastersgames2017.co.nz/en/sports/
Traditionally brimming with ‘retired’ Olympic and elite world champions, the World Masters Games, last held in Turin in 2013, attracts well over 25,000 athletes in 28 sports. Thirty years of age is the most common minimum to be deemed a master, and one must have been out of international or open level competition for at least two years.
So now here’s the professional advice; muscle movement patterns and decision making ability in sport are learned over a distinct period of time. Research with champion athletes attests to the ‘whole picture’ learning of a sport that comes with experience. So if you were good at a particular sport as a kid, or a national level player in earlier days, odds are this is the sport you should start re-training for to enter the World Masters.
While it is physiologically possible to learn the skills, strategies and muscle movement patterns of a whole new sport no matter what your biological age (and the burgeoning science of neuroplasticity is grounded in this concept) the odds are that with 25 months to go you will be most successful by allowing your muscle memory to re-visit what it already knows.
Undeniably, wear and tear is part of being around a while, so there may be a need for specific strength and conditioning work in line with preventing injury and aiding recovery – nearly everything being manageable with expert and sport specific guidance.
There are constantly theories, research and tools being developed in sport that sharpen the focus of training in order to sustain performance. This is highlighted by the fact that the average age of an Olympian at London in 2012 was 26, just four years shy of Masters with 187 of them being over 40 years old.
So with age (especially in the Masters age category system), being merely a number, and with studies proving that muscle memory is arguably re-trainable to any original level reached, this just leaves the will to train as the questionable variable.
Fortunately for us, and defying convention, two of the largest and most competitive events of the Masters Games are being held outside the host city of Auckland, and coming to Waikato (track cycling and rowing).
So if the will to train is not there, perhaps watching the potentially inspiring feats of your peers will spark it up for next time.