Tom’s Blog: Masters Games in Auckland special
I’ve been to five international multi-sporting masters events. Not as a guest – but as an athlete. My first World Masters Games experience came in 2002, when I went to the event held in Melbourne, Australia. Since then, I’ve been to European editions in Sweden in 2008 and Nice in 2015, and the past two World Masters Games, in Turin in 2013 and, recently, Auckland, in 2017.
Despite the sport being my working life, as Secretary General of World Archery, and my level not being of the standard to shoot on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit – I still feel the drive to attend tournaments. The Masters Games gives me the perfect opportunity.
The atmosphere is distinctively social, yet socially competitive.
In Auckland, I watched Andy, from New Zealand, and a Swiss archer, Sirko, joke back and forth during the indoor portion of the event. The banter pushed both of them to great results; they finished with gold and silver – and this was two days after Andy had beaten Sirko in the semifinals of the outdoor event. It was pretty obvious throughout that both were having a fantastic time.
The tournament in New Zealand was split into four parts – outdoor, indoor, World Archery field and IFAA field, each run on a single day with the groups rotating. There was a break in the middle, which was useful, considering I’m not used to shooting so many arrows in a short space of time!
I did best in the outdoor event.
It’s not usually my forte, but I had a bad start and then, despite windy conditions, managed to win my first match. I won in the fourth set, even though I’d missed my first arrow, landing a 10 and an eight on the boss to take it by a point. I then lost my quarterfinal match against Stu Pilcher, who won the event, which was solid evidence of me needing more practice time – especially in shifting tail winds.
The archery competition in Auckland itself was a highlight, as was the excellent New Zealand food and wine, but so was meeting people that I’ve had the pleasure to be in contact with over my years in the sport industry.
I bumped into Duane Kale, a member of the IPC governing board and a swimming athlete at the event, with whom I shared an attache named Raquel in Rio. She assisted him during the Paralympics and was attached to me during the Olympics. Duane and I shared great memories of working with her.
Going back another cycle, I also met Ian Wheeler, who was World Archery First Vice President Mario Scarzella’s driver during the London Olympics. He was proudly wearing his London 2012 Gamesmaker jacket – and went on to win a silver medal in the indoor competition.
The World Masters Games gives people – aged just 30 and above – who don’t have the chance to compete internationally elsewhere an opportunity to get on the line.
I will be back again, not least because I’ve watched my wife Nathalie collect loads of medals – and I haven’t got one yet!
The event in Auckland was special and will remain fondly in my memories – especially some of the volunteers, who ensured it was both run excellently and with an attitude that made us all feel extremely welcome. It was incredible to see youth archers volunteering to support us older ones. Usually it’s the other way around.
I had to give Mike Lainchbury, whose way of introducing the rules was both excellent and humorous, a World Archery pin. He still thinks we should be called FITA. Hopefully the gift makes sure he doesn’t forget again!
To all the new friends I made in Auckland, and to everyone reading this and thinking they might give the World Masters Games a try, I have one thing to say – see you in Kanzai, Japan in 2021. It’s tipped to be the biggest edition of the event to date, and with so many major events in the lead-up, the organisers are going to do a fantastic job.
I’m looking forward to that event for two reasons: the archery and the Kobe beef!