The NZCT AIMS Games, which start on Sunday 4 September in and around Tauranga, have broken their own record for competitors with almost 9300 athletes from intermediate schools around the country taking part in 21 sports. This smashes last year’s impressive record of 8011 entries.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said, “We thought our entry numbers might start to plateau a little after last year, but obviously we still haven’t touched the sides. The response has been nothing short of extraordinary. While we have three new sports this year, the most impressive part is that the numbers in every other sport have also increased, some dramatically.”
For the first time, two schools from overseas are competing, with teams travelling from the Cook Islands and Tonga to compete in badminton. Along with other competitors, they’ll be able to take advantage of free park ‘n’ ride and city bus services to get to matches.
“We’re delighted the two councils have come up with this amazing idea. There are some great benefits, not only for easing congestion, but also as a cool way for whole teams to travel together and build their tournament spirit,” said Vicki Semple.
And it’s not just kids attending the tournament. All Black hooker Nathan Harris and sevens representative Kelly Brazier will be there supporting the young athletes, while a number of other Olympic stars will also be present.
Rio canoe slalom silver medallist Luuka Jones is a guest speaker at the opening ceremony, helping welcome canoe slalom as one of three new AIMS Games sports this year, while another new sport – BMX – will have Olympians Sarah Walker, Kurt Pickard and Trent Jones at their finals day. Sailing siblings Sam and Molly Meech, fresh from winning bronze and silver in Rio, will also be there.
The AIMS Games is New Zealand’s largest annual sporting tournament, with athletes from 271 schools.