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The Dunedin-born and raised athlete claimed gold at the 2009 and 2012 world track championships in the 3000m individual pursuit.
A former New Zealand A netballer, Shanks also won cycling gold at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and placed fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
She would have been a strong gold medal prospect at the 2012 London Olympics but the individual pursuit was cut from the programme and she had to settle for fifth in the team pursuit.
Shanks, who will share the Masters Games ambassador role with former Otago and Highlanders coach Tony Gilbert, was unable to attend the launch but said she was a big fan of the event.''
The Masters Games provides an opportunity that allows that competitive instinct in us to stay alive and kicking,'' she said.
''Having a challenge to strive for and then test yourself in competition is a healthy way to live, and what better way to do it than with a bunch of friends and some party time thrown in between?
''I'm really looking forward to coming home to Dunedin and getting involved in what will be a vibrant and exciting event for the city.''
Vibrant - and lucrative. Games manager Vicki Kestila said the event was worth about $4 million to the Dunedin economy.
The average competitor from outside the city stays three and a-half nights and spends $716. It is big business.
Registration opens today and Kestila is hoping the event will attract more competitors.
The expectation is for between 5500 and 6000 individual entries. Last time the event was held in Dunedin, it attracted 5500 people.
The games get under way on January 30 and finish on February 7. The 2016 programme will offer 70 sporting events with quick-rip rugby featuring as a new sport.
The age criterion for competitors varies between sports, but it is usually 30 years and over.