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“Athlete of Century” to compete at Masters Games

“Athlete of the Century” to compete in Dunedin at 2006 ACC ThinkSafe NZ Masters Games

New Zealand’s Athlete of the Century and triple Olympic gold medallist Peter Snell is to compete in next February’s 2006 ACC ThinkSafe New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin.

Snell, who snatched Olympic glory in the 800 metres at Rome in 1960 and strode into Olympic immortality with the 800/1500 double at Tokyo in 1964, is looking forward to being one of more than 8,000 competitors from around New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the globe.

The runner, turned researcher, who is Director of the Human Performance Centre at the University of Texas South-western Medical Centre, says Masters sport is a “wonderful development” and he is looking forward to both attending and competing at the Dunedin event.

“It gives people who are older the opportunity for continued competition and therefore motivation to actually do the training to perform a little better.”

In his research Snell has specialised in exercise physiology for older age groups and is utterly convinced of the benefits of continued competition. He says people don’t lose their desire for competition, even though the body might not perform quite as well.

“It’s really critical to be able to keep doing things like this both for our interest, for social reasons and more importantly for physical reasons,” he says.

Just which events Snell will compete in will be finalised nearer the Games.

Games chairman John Bezett says it is a huge coup to attract a competitor of Peter Snell’s calibre, and he will be accorded the honour of ‘Special Guest’ at the 2006 ACC ThinkSafe New Zealand Masters Games.

“How do you top that? A triple Olympic gold medallist, the person New Zealanders voted as their Athlete of the Century,” he says.

“I think everyone connected with organising this event feels very humbled that Peter wants to come and be a part of our Games. I am really looking forward to meeting Peter and perhaps even competing with him.”

Around 70 sports are on offer at the Dunedin Games for 2006, ranging from archery, athletics and basketball, to hockey, rugby, softball and yachting. Most of the sports have a 30 or 35 year minimum age limit and over the years there have been several entrants in there 90s.

ACC Chief Executive Garry Wilson says ACC continues to sponsor the Masters Games because so many of the participants, including sporting legend Peter Snell, are in positions to promote injury prevention messages and internationally acclaimed programmes such as ACC SportSmart.

The ACC ThinkSafe New Zealand Masters Games alternate each year between Dunedin and Wanganui and the 2006 event will be the 17th time they have been held.

ENDS

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