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Masters games kick off in Auckland

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/04/2017

Prime Minister Bill English has welcomed more than 28,000 athletes, supporters and officials from 100 countries at the opening ceremony at the World Masters Games in Auckland.

The opening ceremony was held at Eden Park on Friday night.

"With 25,000 athletes competing in 28 sports across 48 venues it's been a massive logistical challenge, but we are ready," World Masters Games 2017 Chief Executive Jennah Wootten said.

The event is open to athletes of all abilities and most ages, with the youngest competitor aged 25 and the oldest 101.

Indian centenarian Man Kaur and her 78-year-old son travelled to New Zealand to compete in the games. The 101-year-old is set to take home gold medals in 100m, 200m, shot put and javelin, as she's the only competitor in the 100-years-plus category.

Sharing the Olympic motto "sport for all", the World Masters Games encourages people to take part in sports throughout their lives. Participants range from former Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners, to amateur athletes and hobby teams.

The New Zealand government has invested $11 million in the event, believing it will bring economic and tourism benefits.

Since starting out in Toronto in 1985, the World Masters Games has been held every four years. Seven cities around the world have hosted the games including Sydney in 2009 and Torino in 2013.

The World Masters Games will run for 10 days until April 30.

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