Mon, Oct 23, 2023 9:05 PM

Marlborough became Masters’ playground


Peter Jones

The 2023 South Island Masters Games wrapped up in Blenheim today, ending nearly two weeks of sporting competition, companionship and camaraderie.

From October 10-23, around 2000 participants, officials and supporters showed their skills across 21 different sports at a series of different venues. Minimum ages range from 20 at swimming to 50 on the croquet greens.

Hockey stalwart Emma Mills was back in action.

Although the onus was on having fun, competitive grades were provided in several sports, with medals being dished out for varying levels of achievement.

Event director Simon Carter described the 2023 event, the second to be held in Marlborough, as “really enjoyable”.

“We have had good numbers, especially in individual sports this year, and solid numbers in our teams. What we have seen is that people are still just craving that opportunity to either get away with their mates, challenge themselves in terms of personal bests if it is an individual sport, but ultimately come together with that camaraderie which Masters sport brings.”

Caroline Cornelius Adam Balasoglou prepare for action in the tennis competition.

Simon said the 2023 event was “quite different” from the initial 2021 Games, which were affected by COVID restrictions. “This time people were able to socialise more easily and it has been quite different in terms of participation as well. We are slightly down [in numbers] across the board but I feel the quality of the competition is higher this time around.

“We are really looking forward to growing on what we have done over the last two editions when we come back in 2025.”

The Marlborough Madness Masters and Tree Fellas volleyballers enjoyed a close, fun-filled battle.

Among many individual highlights, Simon relished the competitiveness that comes around football and also the colour that the netball competition brings.

“Though they may be getting older and slower the footballers’ skill levels are still very high. With the netballers, it is just the colour and enjoyment which they bring.  Just seeing that mix of different people come together is always a thrill.”

Croquet golf players, Rowena Booker, Gisela Hartwig, Megan Leslie and Roy Lilley enjoyed their time on the greens. Megan plays at the Brooklyn club, while the others are from the Blenheim club. 

The social aspect was also to the fore this year, over 500 attending the Oktoberfest Party night at the Marlborough Events Centre on the first Saturday, then the Funky 70s cocktail function at the Vines Village last weekend proving a worthy addition.

The Masters Games concluded at Stadium 2000 and College Park today with the finals of the volleyball and hockey competitions.

Johnny Joseph and Ben Finau were in action for the Moutere touch team. 
Pavel Merta showed impressive form on the pickleball court at Simcox Stadium.
Izzy Lyall, from the Caspian volleyball team, lines up a deep dig.
Bridget Comer and Denise Lloyd await a penalty corner. 
The Whanau Love touch crew enjoy a light-hearted moment.
Pickleball players Chenin Madden and Barry van Beurten.
Tony Harrison and Antonia Riordan were part of the Lincoln Swingers crew. 
Megan Leslie lines up a difficult shot on the carefully-manicured Blenheim croquet greens.
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