September’s Anchor AIMS Games has breached two significant milestones, with more than 10,000 athletes from over 300 schools heading to Tauranga from around New Zealand and the Pacific.
Entries have been received from Indonesia, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Australia, while for the first time 10 para-athletes will also compete in the week-long tournament, with five each in cross country and swimming. Last year, 9300 athletes from 271 schools took part in the 21 sporting codes, but 72 new schools this year have helped push the numbers through the roof.
“We decided to consolidate this year and not add any more sports, but we’ve seen significant growth in nearly all our code numbers,” tournament director Vicki Semple explained. “That tells us just how successful the 2016 tournament was - kids have gone away and told their friends and younger siblings just how much they loved it. It also suggests we’ve got the balance between competition and participation right. While we celebrate our champions, not all 10,000 athletes can win a medal, so the experiences are obviously transcending mere winning or losing.”
An economic impact study found last year’s tournament injected more than $3 million into the Western Bay of Plenty and expanded the region's Gross Domestic Product by $1.98 million.
NZCT has supported the AIMS Games since 2007.