Rodney Times : May 5th 2016
14 RODNEY TIMES, MAY 5, 2016 stuff.co.nz Competitors flock to sign up for games Less than one year out from the world’s largest multi-sport event, organisers are thrilled with the diversity of competitors who have already signed up. The World Masters Games is in Auckland from April 21-30, 2017, with 25,000 athletes competing in 28 sports. Clay target shooting, long dis- tance orienteering and mountain biking is hosted in Rodney. The games, held every four years, always attract a wide variety of competitors from current and former Olympic stars to social teams out for some fun, games chief executive Jennah Wootten says. However the diversity of participants who have signed up so far, along with the immediate international support, has humbled games organisers, she says. ‘‘We have more than 50 countries involved so far, and competitors ranging in age from 25 to 95. ‘‘Competitors are also sharing with us their reasons for competing. ‘‘Many have amazing stories of overcoming adversity and using masters sport to recover and rehabilitate from life threatening illnesses and personal setbacks. ‘‘That’s not only inspiring but it reflects the spirit of sport which the Games embody.’’ In supporting the Olympic Games ethos of ‘sport for all’, the goal the of games is to encourage participation in sport throughout life. Competition and camaraderie are equally celebrated. ‘‘Now with one year to go, the most important thing New Zealanders can do to make the games a success is sign up as a competitor or Atlhletes of all ilk will compete at the World Masters Games, including in the triathlon on Auckland’s waterfront. volunteer,’’ Wootten says. New Zealand’s Minister of Sport and Recreation Jonathan Coleman is urging Kiwis to sign up for the games, train hard and enjoy the experience. He says New Zealand is a proud sporting nation and this is a great chance to prove it. Supporters can also sign up to take part in the official ceremonies and events, without the need to compete. Games organisers are on the hunt for about 4000 volunteers, with awide variety of roles on offer. These include sports roles such as referees, umpires, marshals, assisting at aid stations or setting up equipment. There are also volunteer opportunities across all other aspects of the games including transport, ceremonies, media, commercial, accreditation, VIP hosting and registration. Most volunteers are required in PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES Auckland, which is home to all but two of the games sports, with a number also needed in the Waikato, where rowing and track cycling are based. ❚ Visit worldmastergames2017.co.nz for information. When Eddie soaredlikeaneagle JOSEPHROMANOS Sports talk such as figure skater Sonja Henie, skier Jean-Claude Killy or ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean might grab our attention, but generally thewinter Olympics pass us by. The 1988 Calgary games were N different, as I was reminded last weekend when I watched the movie Eddie the Eagle. There were two superstars in Calgary, Italian skier Alberto Tomba and East German figure skater KatarinaWitt. But it was two no-hopers who hogged the headlines. The Jamaican bobsleigh team didn’t even finish. They crashed out. But their unlikely entry inspired a movie, Cool Runnings, and various musical efforts. And then there was Michael Edwards, Eddie the Eagle to the sports world.He competed in the 70m and 90m ski jumps and finished last by absurd margins, but proved immensely popular. He was the most unlikely looking competitor.He was so long- ew Zealanders generally don’t caremuch for the winter Olympics. Occasionally competitors ‘‘Because of his appalling results, the joy he showed in merely competing and his outrageous personality, he became a media celebrity.’’ sighted he wore thick glasses that fogged up in the cold. Andhe was about 10kg heavier than anyone else in his events at Calgary. Edwards, a plasterer, always had something about him – he was a stunt jumperwho once set a record by clearing six buses. He almost made the 1984 British winter Olympics skiing team, but to make sure he qualified in 1988 he took up the ski jump, which no other Briton contested. Though he was self-funded and forever short of money, he trained at Lake Placid, NewYork.He competed on the European circuit, sleeping one night in a Finnish mental hospital to save money. Edwards was no natural.He admitted to being afraid as he scanned the vast expanse before taking off for the 90m jump. ‘‘When I first looked from the top of the jump, I was so frightened that mybumshrivelled up like a prune,’’ he said. Anywayhe competed in Calgary, finished last and became famous.As in the current movie, Finn Matti Nykanen won both the 70m and 90m golds. (He later had such troublewith Hugh Jackman, in van, and Taron Egerton in Eddie the Eagle. alcoholism that he sold his medals and was even jailed after stabbing someone during a drinking binge.) Edwards, dubbed TheMrMagoo of Skiing, The Flying Plasterer and The Ski Dropper, said before he competed: ‘‘Inmycase there are only twokinds of hope, Bob Hope and no hope.’’ Because of his appalling results, the joy he showed in merely competing and his outrageous personality, he became a media celebrity, muchto the irritation of some better ski jumpers. Again as in the movie, Frank King, president of the organising committee, singled him out during the closing ceremony, saying: ‘‘… and some of you have even soared like an eagle.’’ He never got to another Olympics. The ‘‘Eddie Edwards rule’’ was introduced, making qualifying standardsmuch tougher. Commercially he did well. There PHOTO: ROADSHOW FILMS was a five-year sponsorshipwith EagleAirlines in Britain, and lots of television appearances. His famelingers in other ways. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Equatorial Guinea swimmer Eric Moussambani was so bad he was dubbed Eric the Eel. I did enjoy the movie, which while no documentary, still revived memories of a fortnight 28 years ago when evenNewZealanders cared about thewinterOlympics.
May 3rd 2016