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Glittering opening as medalists inspire AIMS Gamers

Glittering opening as medalists inspire AIMS Gamers

September 8 2014

Star power helped inspire the next generation of champion athletes, as the NZCT AIMS Games was officially opened at Baypark's ASB Arena last night.

Commonwealth Games gold medalists, track cyclist Sam Webster and swimmer Lauren Boyle, along with former Silver Fern netballer Irene van Dyk, were the features of a glittering opening ceremony as 7500 Year 7 and 8 athletes were welcomed to the city for the week-long competition.

It capped a busy week for Boyle, who raced the national short-course swimming championships in Wellington, then flew up to the Bay of Plenty for the tournament launch.

Fresh from breaking the world record in the short-course 1500m, Boyle's message to the packed arena was one of perseverance and personal pride.

"It's a great opportunity to learn a lot about yourself and about sports when you're here at the games," Boyle said. "In Glasgow, I learned anyone can be good at high-level sport and the most important thing is being your best self, instead of trying to copy anyone else. Have a lot of belief in yourself. Your experiences at this competition can help you aim higher in the future and set some really long-term sporting goals."

Webster collected gold in the sprint and team sprint at the Commonwealth Games but said the medals weren't his enduring memory of the games.

"My favorite moment of the Commonwealth Games was when I won my first medal and went back to the New Zealand team house," Webster explained. "To come back and have the reception from the team I was representing, wearing the silver fern and a gold medal, to have my whole team get in behind me, support me and cheer for me was an amazing feeling. You guys have a great opportunity to be cheered along by your school, your friends and your family who have come along to watch you."

Van Dyk had the arena in fits of laughter, describing her experiences playing for South Africa at the 1995 world championships, marking a terrifying opponent from Trinidad and Tobago.

She's the world's most capped netballer, amassing an incredible 217 test caps spanning a 20 year period, including 72 test caps for South Africa and, after switching allegiances in 2000, becoming the most capped Silver Fern of all time with 145 appearances in the black dress.

She also had a simple message for competitors this week.

"If you believe in yourself, you don't need anyone to believe in you," Van Dyk said. "No-one can take that away from you."

Cross country kicked off the NZCT AIMS Games yesterday but the tournament begins in earnest today, with 13 sports kicking off.

Supporters can follow the 2014 NZCT AIMS GAMES at www.nzaimsgames.co.nz or on Facebook www.facebook.com/NZCTAIMSGAMES


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