Games a chance to reunite

New Zealand Masters Games staff (back, from left) Vicki Kestila, Emma Wood, Geoff Simons, (front,...
New Zealand Masters Games staff (back, from left) Vicki Kestila, Emma Wood, Geoff Simons, (front, from left) Dyani Shepherd-Oates and Allison Wallace are all ready for the action to start on Saturday. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Dunedin is set to spring to life as the 35th New Zealand Masters Games gets under way on Saturday for nine days of competition and entertainment.

Older athletes will call upon time-tested tenacity as they take part in the games, while budding players will see how expertise and endurance can be just as effective as youthful zeal.

Games ambassador Warren Lees said he was excited about the return of the games to the city.

The former New Zealand cricket wicketkeeper, batsman and coach has been involved in cricket for more than 50 years.

He coached the Black Caps for three seasons and was the White Ferns coach for the 2014 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Meeting both old friends and seeing new faces was part of the excitement of the games, he said.

"I love it, absolutely love every minute of it."

He never saw an unhappy person at the games.

"People who possibly used to be competitive, but now they just enjoy the involvement of the sport they used to play."

While some people were certainly still working hard to compete and do their best, the games also catered to people who were "just happy to be there", he said.

"It’s a social thing.

"You are meeting up with old competitors that you may have met years ago.

"You are reliving a few old memories, and to be fair, the older you get, the better you were."

Stories of people’s athletic prowess might not always be "absolutely accurate", he cheekily suggested.

"But it is just a fun thing, you meet people from all over."

Games manager Vicki Kestila said her staff, as well as about 80 volunteers and 120 sports partners, were ready for the games to begin.

The Otago Community Trust Games Hub at the University Union is where entrants will pick up their passes and entry packs.

This will also be the site for the official opening ceremony and entertainment throughout the games.

Jigsaw puzzle racing would be a highlight, Mrs Kestila said.

The event was coming to Dunedin for the first time after its debut at the 2021 games in Whanganui.

"That is going to be interesting to watch."

The event was already booked out.

Twenty individuals and 20 teams of four players were set to compete in the University Union food hall.

"Who would have known that there is actually a whole community of puzzlers?"

They would have a maximum of nine hours to complete a 1000-piece jigsaw.

"I’m intrigued because I know how long it takes me to do a jigsaw puzzle."

She was also looking forward to enjoying some of the entertainment set to take place on the stage outside the University Union building.

"It’s going to be beautiful, sunny, stunning."