Members of the Omanu Surf Life Saving Club will be beaming this week after bringing home what might be the biggest medal haul of the World Masters Games.
The team of 11 athletes scored 80 medals between them at the surf lifesaving portion of the games over the weekend.
Team manager Simon Oldham says in total the team brought home 36 gold, 29 silver, and 15 bronze.
He personally received eight, while teammates Ian Glover and Kim Harker came away with 12 and 10, respectively.
“I was in the 45-49 age group – same age as Cory Hutchings. My silvers are all because of him,” laughs Simon.
“We had to do all the usual events – surf race, board race, ski race, ironman, and relays – with the first day mainly for individuals, while the second was for team events
“We were pretty stoked – I think we were the most successful club there.”
And the competition was strong, too, with teams competing from all over New Zealand, as well as international athletes from France, South Africa, and surf lifesaving stalwarts Australia.
“We couldn’t believe it. The Australians are really good, and we didn’t expect to do as well as we did.”
But their success is all because the team have been putting in the hard yards for several months.
“We’ve been training for these games for over a year now. We were training all winter last year, and headed down to the national champs in Christchurch as part of the preparation.
“We had put in a lot of effort, though, and we had some really good coaching in the pool at Mount Maunganui College. We even had a former ironman champion helping out.”
Their ages ranged from 35 to 68 – proof age is no barrier to success (a major theme of the World Masters Games).
Simon says their success is all the sweeter as the games are the closest they come to competing on a world stage.
“This is really our Olympics. We would also like to thank our club for the support, and our coaches – Michael Williams, Simon Wills and Stefan Swanepoel. Also our sponsor that helped us get there: Hollister-Jones Lellman Law.”