The press around the World Masters Games has made a great deal of the fact that it is the world's largest multi-sport event. Larger than the Olympics. Well, it is in numbers. Of course, it does not attract the spectator (or sponsor) or national attention that the Olympics does, but that is because the Olympics showcases the best in the world, period. The World Masters cannot break world records without qualifying them with "well, it's the fastest, furthest, longest, from anyone of that age". The point is, and I think this is for people of all ages, the World Masters embodies the spirit, the passion, the drive, the pleasure & most importantly, as the slogan rightly states, the joy of sport. The Olympics is about watching the best of all time do impossible things (out of the reach of everyone else). The World Masters is about everyone else taking part & doing impossible things - for them personally.
There are Masters Games Associations around the world, but there is nothing quite like bringing the World together to share in the joy. Even with many athletes staying away from the opening ceremony because they had to compete early the next day & needed their rest(!), Eden Park was humming with a party atmosphere. The anticipation was huge & everyone was there simply to enjoy being with their fellow competitors. Jenny May was flawless, as usual, not just because she is an athlete herself, but because her presentation style is so polished yet relaxed (sorry, but I am a fan!). I was also impressed by Phil Goff who, as mayor of our fair city gave a pretty rousing speech. And Monica Mercury showed not a shred of the nerves she must have felt reading the oath. Formalities dealt with, the festivities kicked off, including the largest laser light show ever seen in New Zealand.
The opening ceremony was unashamedly about the participants, designed to allow all athletes in each sporting discipline to intermingle & parade together around Eden Park. As each sport was introduced with its symbol being zip-wired across the stadium, all the competitors rose from their seats & walked down to the pitch, around & off into the night. This was repeated for every sport until the stadium was filled with just the volunteers clearing up. The volunteers. What a fabulous group of people they are. Possibly even more than the competitors, they devote their time & energies just for the love of sport. Fantastic. The atmosphere is difficult to convey, but it was a warm enveloping feeling being surrounded by like-minded & welcoming people, from all across the globe.
Hopefully some of the photos I took capture some of the atmosphere if you weren't there. If you are in any of the photos & would like copies, just email me & I'll send them to you. The video is of the entire event (from a single perspective) & is so long, I suspect only people who were there might fast forward to re-live specific instances! But it is definitely worth a peek… A fitting kick-off to a games to promote sporting competitiveness in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation & friendship. Very glad to be a part of it.
Auckland - April 2017
The video is the entire opening ceremony from one perspective.