Games numbers up

Fun in the sun . . . Playing cornhole in the New Zealand Masters Games hub in the Octagon yesterday afternoon are Marco Kleinlangevelsloo (left) and Brian Adams, both of Dunedin. Kleinlangevelsloo is a Masters Games participant, competing in the 12km run, beach volleyball and half-marathon. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Nearly 5000 athletes are competing in Dunedin this week.

The New Zealand Masters Games, an annual multisport event, officially opened in the city on Saturday and will close on Sunday.

Heavy rain on Tuesday meant some golf, cricket and lawn bowls events required a change of venue or date.

New Zealand Masters Games manager Vicki Kestila said there might also be a change to the paddle sports events.

“We are lucky to have so many excellent venues in Dunedin that have meant we’ve been able to make the changes reasonably easily, with very few competitors missing out on their planned event.”

Although entries were still being taken, participation numbers were already up on the previous games, she said.

About 4800 people were signed up for the 64 sporting or fun events on the schedule.

“This year, we have a huge range of competitors former Olympians and professional athletes to long-standing and passionate amateurs who come year after year to compete and share in the camaraderie of the games.”

The athletes are competing for the roughly 8000 medals on offer.

Preparing for the games was a “continual job” and once this event was over, staff would begin working on the next games.

“The full team comes on board about 10 months out from the games but the manager is always on board.”

There are also more than 500 volunteers who help out at sports and venues.

The New Zealand Masters Games recruits about 100, and many sports supply their own.

One major difference at this year’s games is the hub in the Octagon, which Mrs Kestila said had received positive comments from competitors.

It provided a dedicated space in the heart of the city where sports and entertainment events could be held, she said.

“From our competitor parade and official opening to movie screenings, it’s been a fantastic way for games competitors to really connect with the city.”