09 Dec 2016
By Wright Communications
New Zealand's 'Sports Champion of the (20th) Century', Sir Peter Snell, has confirmed today that he will be a starter at World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland.
Sir Peter (77) will join an estimated 25,000 participants ranging in age from 25 to 101 when he arrives in Auckland for World Masters Games 2017 (WMG2017), the world's largest multi-sport event, commencing on 21 April next year.
Most famous for his 800m and1500m heroics at the Tokyo and Rome Olympics in the 1960s, Snell's track days are long over but he's still as competitive as ever in his chosen sport of table tennis. He and wife Miki will both compete in table tennis at WMG2017.
A keen player of racquet sports since his childhood in Taranaki, Sir Peter has played tennis, badminton, squash and took up racketball when he moved to the United States. Following his collapse on the racketball court six years ago and a subsequent cardiomyopathy diagnosis, he has taken up table tennis with his wife and they play and practice three times a week for two to three hours at a time.
"Both of us are very competitive and like to win, although against the Chinese who have been playing since they were kids, this is tough to do in Texas," he says.
In typical Snell style, he and Miki have fashioned a winning record, finishing in the top four in the state championship in the 75+ age category and qualifying for the US Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, in June.
"We're looking forward to competing at World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland. It's a great opportunity to come back to New Zealand for a visit and the Games' goal of encouraging participation in sport throughout life reflects our passion 100%," Sir Peter says.
He will be hoping to be on the podium in at least one of the 3,000+ medal ceremonies that will take place across 28 sports (45 disciplines) at 48 venues throughout Auckland and in Cambridge during WMG2017.
Games Medals Revealed
The medals to be presented at the Games were unveiled by three WMG2017 competitors - Games Ambassador Hamish Carter, Orienteering competitor Tania Larsen and Sprint Triathlon entrant Ema Iuli, at Auckland's SKYCITY Hotel today.
Designed and produced by the company responsible for medals at the Sydney 2009 World Masters Games, each prize medal - at 70mm in diameter and weighing approximately 135 grams - showcases the Games logo that incorporates the unique takarangi (spiral) designed by Graham Tipene for WMG2017.
The takarangi represents the movement of water and the connection between the northern and southern hemispheres, which is a nod to the coming together of athletes from all around the world for the event. The design also represents the connection of the Maori people of Auckland to the city's three harbours. A blue ribbon represents the colour of the water which is central to the takarangi.
WMG2017 Chief Executive Jennah Wootten says if Kiwi athletes needed any further incentive to sign up for the Games, the impressive sight of the gold, silver and bronze medals on offer should provide it.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for sportspeople of all ages and abilities to compete in a global event against athletes of similar ability for medal honours. Not every athlete will win a medal, and perhaps not every competitor is striving for one, however we wanted to create a symbol befitting the achievement of those that do."
"Along with the memories the participants will create along the way, the medals will be lifelong mementoes of their achievements on the field of play."
More Sports on Track for Sell-Out
Ms Wootten says approximately 15,000 participants from New Zealand and around the world have already taken the plunge and signed up for the Games. Participants from 80 countries have registered so far with Australia leading the charge internationally, followed by Canada and the United States.
"We expect a 6000-stong contingent from Australia and about the same number from the rest of the world so we're looking for a lot more Kiwis, whether they are a social or competitive sportspeople, to take them on," she says.
"My advice is get in quickly because we've already sold out available places in five sports with more on the verge of a sellout and several others selling fast and rapidly approaching capacity."
Archery, Softball, Football, Golf and Hockey sold out several months ago and Orienteering, Shooting, Squash, Mountain Bike and Pool Swimming are next in line. Cycling (track, road race, time trial) Canoe Slalom and Racing, and Badminton are all selling fast and Volleyball has limited capacity remaining in certain team age ranges.
"We've had a great response from athletes but with 28 sports and 45 disciplines to choose from there are still plenty of opportunities to be part of this incredible event before registrations close in early 2017.
"Almost 6,000 New Zealanders have already signed up but we'd love to see double that number in the stands at the Opening Ceremony at Eden Park on 21 April next year. These are our Games, and possibly the only time New Zealand will host, so let's show the world just how proud a sporting nation we are."
International Masters Games Association Inspection Visit a Success
All indications are that Auckland will be well prepared for the Games come the Opening Ceremony at Eden Park, with International Masters Games Association CEO Jens Holm giving the city's readiness his seal of approval during an inspection visit this week.
"We've been impressed with all aspects of what we've seen from the competition venues to the planning and logistics. And it's clear that athlete and volunteer recruitment is on track."
Mr Holm says the IMGA is also excited about the Games Opening Ceremony at Eden Park and the plan for the Entertainment Hub on Queens Wharf, which he says will be special highlights for WMG2017 participants and stamp a uniquely New Zealand and Auckland mark on the international event.
"We believe Auckland is on target to host a successful, unique and captivating Games for athletes around the world. Every Games is different and this will be one of the best ever."
Participants at WMG2017 will range from masters sporting greats, former Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners, to amateur athletes and teams who compete in the event for fun, for their lifelong love of sport, and to experience new countries and cultures.
For more information please visit www.worldmastersgames2017.co.nz.
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