Masters Games: Gibbs added as games ambassador

Launching the 2012 New Zealand Masters Games at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday were (from left)...
Launching the 2012 New Zealand Masters Games at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday were (from left) Dick Taylor (ambassador), John Bezett (chairman), Leigh Gibbs (ambassador) and Aaron Joy (manager). Photo by Jane Dawber.
There will be a female ambassador at the New Zealand Masters Games for the first time next year.

Filling that role in Dunedin will be former Silver Ferns coach and New Zealand netball captain Leigh Gibbs.

Gibbs, who will coach Canterbury Tactix in the transtasman league next year, will join experienced ambassadors Dick Tayler and Sir Colin Meads as joint ambassadors.

"We wanted to have a female ambassador," Masters Games manager Aaron Joy said yesterday. "We are fortunate to have three such noted sportsmen as our ambassadors.

"Competitors tell us that it is special for them to have medals presented to them by famous people like Dick, Colin and Leigh."

Tayler and Gibbs were guests at the official launch of the 2012 Masters Games at the Forsyth Barr Stadium last night. Meads had another commitment and was not able to attend.

Meads, who played 133 games, including 55 tests, for the All Blacks from 1957 to 1971, and Tayler have been popular ambassadors who make a point of getting round the different venues and talking to the competitors.

It will be Tayler's sixth time as a Masters Games ambassador and the third time in Dunedin. He is looking forward to sharing the duties with Gibbs and Meads. The Commonwealth Games 10,000m gold medallist at Christchurch in 1974 is a great communicator and mixes easily with everybody.

The old headquarters venue at the University of Otago Student Union is not available next year because construction work will be in progress.

It was announced at last night's launch that the new headquarters will be at the east end of the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"It will be a special feature of next year's games," Joy said.

"It will highlight the stadium to competitors from the rest of New Zealand and Australia."

It is planned to hold the football final at the stadium and other events held there will be marching, gymnastics and trampolining, indoor rowing and weightlifting.

It will also be the centre for the social events that are always a special feature of the games.

There will be 72 sports at next year's games from February 4-12, with dragon boat racing the new sport.

When Joy attended the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast last November he was told that Australians would come to Dunedin if dragon boat racing was included in the programme.

"The Aoraki Dragon Boat Club, of Christchurch, will be running the event and supplying the equipment," Joy said.

Marching, last held in Dunedin in 2004, will be reintroduced.

It was announced last night that the new naming rights sponsor for the Masters Games will be the Trust Community Foundation of Levin.

"They have been granted the rights for the Dunedin games and we hope it will become a long-standing contract," Joy said.

There were 6404 competitors at the games in Dunedin in 2010 and Joy expects up to 7000 competitors and 1000 volunteers to be involved next February.

The 2002 games had 8200 competitors and was the largest games in Dunedin.

NZ Masters Games
At a glance
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.
Date: February 4-12, 2012.
Ambassadors: Leigh Gibbs, Sir Colin Meads, Dick Tayler.
Number of sports: 72.
New sport: Dragon Boat Racing.
Biggest event in Dunedin: 8200 competitors in 2002.

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