All done & dusted, packed away & pushed to the back of the top shelf. The medal I won is hanging off a curtain rail in the studio, alongside other historic, useless but precious items, like the binoculars my father gave me when I was nine. The World Masters Games (WMG) was all about endurance. Well, it can't by definition really be about world beating performances, can it? But it was also so much more than that. It was a community, a gathering of like-minded people bent on giving their best but also encouraging others to do so as well. It was fun - how many international sports competitions can that be said about! It was a reunion, a celebration, a sharing of aspirations, skills, knowledge. It was strange yet inspiring, basking in this collegiate atmosphere amongst octogenarians. And from the mouths of many, it was by far the best Games ever!
Before the World Masters Games came to Auckland, I had never really heard about them, why? Well, possibly because I had moved away from any form of competitive sports many decades ago, so without being spoon fed the information, it was not going to appear on my radar. Possibly also because I wasn't old enough? I do find that recently, even before WMG2017 came along, I have been paying more attention to the issues of getting older in our society. Because I am! Historically until quite recently, certain activities in our society have been deemed suitable for youth & others for statesmen. There, that word gives it all away, Statesmen. Political & Social leaders can be old. Not so old they can't appear vigorous, but old enough to have absorbed the wisdom of the years. Athletic prowess; well, that's the domain of our youth… Now, we are seeing more young people entering politics, thank goodness, as the wise has to be balanced with the vision, and we are seeing more older people remaining physically active for much, much longer.
I had the privilege of hearing Lisa Tamati deliver an inspirational talk the other week. One of the perks of the job. I get hired to photograph an event, then I can listen to the speakers. They aren't always interesting, but she certainly was. There is a world outside our comfortable bubble, a world that is harsh & unrelenting, where absolute extremes can tear you apart physically & exhaust you mentally. And neither age nor sex are any boundary. She ran La Ultra - the High Race, a 222Km gruelling race over two of the highest passes in the world (in the Himalayas), just to try & be the first woman to complete it. She was over 40 and she finished - second - beaten by a 55 year-old woman. Her list of extreme accomplishments is humbling - see lisatamati.co.nz - and she is living proof that we can accomplish far more than we believe, and age is no barrier.
I photographed mainly badminton play (as this was my sport & I highly recommend you go along to Badminton North Harbour & give it a go!), with some swimming & the opening ceremony during the WMG. You can see all the images in this gallery. (It's quite large, apologies, because when I tried to break it down it became even more unwieldy!) Please just browse through & request any image you want for your own personal use. (If you want any for commercial use, you know what you have to do!) Ideally let me know using the gallery's selection tools & I'll send you the unwatermarked image file, free of charge. All I ask in return is that if you share them anywhere you credit RiK of RiKmedia.nz…
I intend never to retire. Never to stop playing sport. Never to behave as if I'm older than 30. Never to give in to my body complaining that it wants to stop & rest. Never to gracefully fade into the background… This is what the World Masters Games means. This, plus a community that supports each other even in competition.
Auckland - March 2017