Alistair Mackay sets a New Zealand record in the high jump
at the Masters Games yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Gold medals are not important to retired Southland sheep
and beef farmer Alistair Mackay.
Mackay (86) has won 158 gold medals at Masters Games since he
started competing in 1998 and they are tucked away out of
sight in a wardrobe at his home in Invercargill.
''To compete and finish the event is what is important to
me,'' he said after adding six more gold medals to his
collection, in the 85 to 89 age grade at the Caledonian
Ground, in Dunedin, yesterday.
He won the 200m, 400m and shot put and set New Zealand
records in the 100m (18.90sec), high jump (1m) and long jump
''When I first started I was convinced that I was going to
come last in the 100m,'' Mackay said.
''I got the shock of my life when I was in the lead.''
He retired from his Northern Southland sheep and beef farm at
Kapuka South in 1987 and started competing in Masters Games
sport at the age of 70 in 1998.
His secret is simple. He has kept active and does aerobics
three times a week at the Invercargill YMCA and swims 30 laps
at the Splash Palace pool three times a week.
He has good advice for those contemplating following his
''Give it a go,'' he said.
''Even if you're not winning, you're still mixing with
others. It doesn't matter where you finish. By joining in you
support each other.''
Mackay is competing in five swimming races over the next
three days and is likely to
add more gold medals to his tally.
Mackay was the oldest male athlete competing in athletics
yesterday but he is five years younger than the oldest female
athlete, Pauline Purser (91).
Purser, from Tauranga, did not set any records but won four
gold medals in the throwing events: javelin (6.83m), hammer
throw (12.38m), shot put (3.71m) and discus (8.43m).
This was remarkable considering she has had two hip
replacements and a broken pelvis.
Purser was a champion ballroom dancer until 1984 but has been
restricted to the throwing events since her operations.
''I just do my best. I was never tempted to give up,'' she
''I love the hammer throw and get a real kick out of it.''