The World Masters Games are perhaps the ultimate example of the many benefits and positives of being involved in sport; whether as an athlete, coach or volunteer.
Kicking off this month (April 21-30), and being hosted primarily in Auckland (with rowing and cycling events held in Cambridge), this is the largest multi-sport event in the world. In terms of athlete numbers, it is bigger in scale than even the Olympics.
Approximately 24,513 participants are set to compete in 28 sports – across 48 competition venues.
The World Masters Games are regarded as the largest event New Zealand will host in at least the next decade. This is a superb opportunity to witness athletes of a huge cross section of ages in action.
For action close to home, head to Lake Karapiro where the world class rowing facilities host the World Masters Games rowing events, while all track cycling events will be held at the Avantidrome.
From weekend warriors to former elite athletes, the World Masters Games 2017 ambassadors are a special group of sports men and women representing different sports, age groups and experiences.
The ambassadors are lending their time and support as masters’ advocates quite simply ‘for the love of sport’ and to help World Masters Games 2017 communicate the size and scale of the event and its importance to the masters sporting movement globally.
Many of the ambassadors are former elite athletes who have chosen to continue with their passion until much later in life. Equally, some are looking to try their hand at new sports and will train for something different in 2017.
This reflects the World Masters Games ethos – that the event is for anyone with a passion for sports competition. Ability is only part of the story.
WMG Events: Athletics (half marathon road race and 5000 metres track), Swimming (2500 metres open water), Cycling (20 km time trial), Triathlon (sprint distance)
Competition goal: I have twin goals but they’re incompatible. Win five gold medals showing my hunger as an athlete, and be last in my age group in those five events showing I’m a good host.
Masters sports is what Garth Barfoot knows and loves. He is a true weekend warrior who has competed in hundreds of triathlon events, entered 33 ironman events and completed 20 of them.
In April, 2014 he completed the swim section in the team’s race of the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Series Triathlon, notwithstanding a hip replacement nine weeks earlier after being knocked off his bike by a car.
To celebrate turning 80 in 2016 Garth entered as many world championships in triathlon as he could, not just enter but start, not just start but finish. His quest took him to four countries across three continents.
Unusually for someone his age Garth has to fit his training around a regular job as a director of Auckland Real Estate Company, Barfoot & Thompson, the presenting partner of World Masters Games 2017.
Garth turns his lack of training time to his advantage, always looking forward to a training session “because it is different from work”.
“World Masters Games 2017 is a unique opportunity to showcase the masters’ sports ethos I love and the city I call home,” says Garth.
Jenny-May Clarkson (Coffin)
WMG Event: Triathlon sprint (team relay)
Competition goal: Make sure the performance matches our training – lots of fun and not too serious.
International and representative netballer, international touch rugby representative, sports broadcaster.
A 26-cap career as a member of the Silver Ferns and the thrill of a Commonwealth Games silver medal are just some of the career highlights for Jenny-May Clarkson (nee Coffin).
The ante on Jenny-May’s extremely busy work life – ONE News sports presenter, front person for Maori Television’s highly popular CODE, presenter for TVNZ’s Whanau Living, coach of the Northern Mystics development team and development advisor for High Performance Sport New Zealand – went up a big notch in 2016 with the birth of twin boys, following her marriage to Dean Clarkson the previous year.
After considerable head scratching, Jenny-May and husband Dean decided to enter the Triathlon sprint as a relay team undertaking the swim and cycle legs respectively.
The couple will be joined by Anthony (Tony) Woodcock to tackle the 5km run following a promotional search for a ‘third wheel’ to join Team Clarkson.
Over and above the event she is competing in herself, Jenny-May says masters sport is a great chance to reconnect with old friends and team mates.
“World Masters Games 2017 is a unique opportunity for Auckland to host former and maybe even current Commonwealth, Olympic and World Champions along with the thousands of other athletes who simply compete because they love it,” says Jenny-May.
Events entered: rowing (five events) and triathlon
Competition goal: Survival is desirable but not critical. But I do want to win the trash talk battle pre-race, regardless of whether I can back it up or not.
Olympic bronze medal rower Nathan Twaddle takes his place as one of a number of highly successful New Zealander rowers in recent years. It was in the pairs that he carved out a successful international career, teaming up with George Bridgewater to take the World Championship title in 2005 in the famous Gifu Kiwi medal haul.
The duo went on to take two more silver medals in 2006 at Eton and 2007 at Munich. His career highlight is undoubtedly when he and George won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Accolades and awards followed including the Halberg Team of the Year title in 2005.
Now an Athlete Life Advisor with High Performance Sport New Zealand, based in Cambridge, Nathan still enjoys rowing socially with mates from the Auckland Rowing Club.
“The competition and camaraderie of rowing was always a big part of why I rowed and masters events means I can continue to do so. In fact a few mates and I were recently discussing what sports we might compete in at the World Masters Games 2017 – there are certainly plenty of options even outside of rowing, and I’m looking forward to being part of such an exciting event.”
WMG Event: Mountain biking
Competition goal: Get to the start line fit and healthy – then I will be free to express myself.
Described as athletics’ Golden Girl, Allison Roe was one of New Zealand’s greatest distance runners. Images of Allison winning the 1981 Boston and New York marathons in course record times are some of the most enduring in New Zealand athletics.
Her twin wins in the US were followed by a world record for the 20km set in Japan. Since ending her competitive running career, Allison’s name has become synonymous with health and fitness.
“These days my business interests coincide with my personal passions – health and fitness – so an involvement with World Masters Games 2017 is a wonderful and logical fit for me,” says Allison.
As a former national titleholder in three sports, including triathlon, Allison has a range of sports options to compete in at World Masters Games 2017.
“I’m lucky to have lots of choices – from swimming, running and cycling – and while I was hoping to try something different like rowing, injury has ruled that out.”
WMG Event: Golf
Competition goal: Enjoying being part of my third World Masters Games, especially at home in Kiwiland.
International and national sports management specialist Susie Simcock has a CV which is probably unrivalled in this country. She is best known as New Zealand’s “Mrs Squash” as a player, manager and administrator, and was the first woman elected president of the World Squash Federation.
Susie has been a long-time NZ Olympic Committee member and is both a New Zealand Olympic Order holder and Halberg SPARC Leadership awardee.
Masters sport is a real passion for Susie – not only has she been a medal-winning competitor, she has also applied her considerable sports management experience as a Governor of the International Masters Games Association from 2002 to 2010. She says masters sport is a wonderful opportunity for passionate sports people to have an ongoing involvement in their chosen sport – participating, competing, having fun while keeping fit and healthy together with the many other benefits that sport provides.
Golf is Susie’s current sport of choice and she is keen to once again take part in a World Masters Games competition.
“I’m excited to be part of the very special opportunity World Masters Games 2017 provides for Kiwis to be inspired and challenged to join sports people from around the world in the biggest multisport, multinational sporting event on the planet.”