Curtains come down on World Masters Games

By Eru Paranihi

This year's World Masters Games has drawn to a close in New Zealand. This month saw over 25,000 masters athletes from across the globe converge in Auckland to compete over nine days. Tonight New Zealand will hand the baton over to Japan who will host the next 2021 World Masters Games.

The opening ceremony proved New Zealand meant business.

Some familiar faces took part in the games which included Victoria Cross recipient Willie Apiata, NRL Premiership winner Scott Prince played alongside touch legend Peter Walters as well as former All Black Jeff Wilson playing the sport he loves with the Auckland's Silver Foxes. 

Scott Prince says, "Yeah, these four-day tournaments are unbelievable. Four games in a day they're unbelievable." 

Brendan Pongia says, "I love the game mate and it's just great to get out there and play with Phil Jones who I used to play with and I love getting back in this arena and being competitive and actually just competing." 

Age was not a barrier for many of the competitors and 101-year-old Man Kaur from India stole the show when she won a gold in the 100m dash.

28,000 athletes proudly represented their country. The late Silver Fern Tania Dalton was honoured by former teammates in the gold final of the 40+ division.

Kiri Willis says, "I think she would be proud with the way we've conducted ourselves this week. We tried to have a bit of fun and we've tried to do as many lay-ups as we could for Tarns because that was her speciality." 

If these games are anything to go by, Kansai Japan is expected to be even bigger after receiving the hosting rights.