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Young athletes descend on Wellington for Games

Media Release Tuesday 18 April 2006

Young athletes descend on Wellington for Games

Eating too many Easter eggs is no problem for the 2000 young athletes taking over the Capital this week—they will burn off the extra energy by participating in 27 sports in venues all around Wellington.

The student athletes will today be welcomed at the official opening of the New Zealand University Games, being staged in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington, Victoria University Students’ Association, Wellington City Council, Sport Wellington Region and the New Zealand Community Trust.

The students, from New Zealand’s ten university campuses, will compete in 28 different sports at the Games, which will be held at venues around the Capital from 18-21 April (with the exception of the Games Rowing Regatta which was held on the Whanganui River on Saturday 15 April).

Jim Ellis, Executive Director of University Sport New Zealand (USNZ), says this year’s Games are set for success.

“The Uni Games are the second largest multi-sports event in New Zealand, next to the Master’s Games, and fast becoming a pivotal annual event for elite athletes. Last year, several national talent scouts attended the Games and from what I’ve heard already, the standard of this year’s Games will be the highest yet.”

One of the main highlights of the week will be the rugby league final on Friday, which, for the first time will be held on the Basin Reserve venue.

“For us to have use of this international pitch for our sports is amazing. It’s definitely going to be a match worth watching.”

Seven additional sports will be competed in at the Games this year, including lawn bowls, once the sporting preserve of New Zealand’s older generation.

“There was actually quite a lot of demand for us to include lawn bowls,” says Mr Ellis. “Especially since it is becoming quite popular in high school and the students want to continue to compete at university level.”

The other new sports are beach volleyball, cross country, canoe polo, inline hockey, shooting, and underwater hockey.

Host, Victoria University, has a team of 500 athletes, the largest ever, including:

Martin Wilson, a 46-year-old competing as part of Victoria University’s Ultimate Frisbee side. He was a recipient of a 2005 Victoria University Administration Blue for his achievements in the VUW Flying Disk Club and was also named Sports Administrator of the Year.

Juho Sarkila, from Finland is competing in both Ultimate Frisbee and Rowing. He was a peace-keeper in Afghanistan for the Finnish army prior to coming to Victoria to study.

Lawn bowler, Clare McCaul won a bronze medal for New Zealand at the Youth Commonwealth Games in 2004 and is the youngest person to win the ‘champion of champion’ pairs title in Wellington.

Footballer, Patrice Bourke has been a New Zealand Women’s Elite Squad member since 2005. She was a member of the New Zealand team which competed at the 23rd World University Games n Turkey in 2005. She is also studying for a PhD in forensic science at Victoria.

Silas Avery, who is competing in volleyball for Victoria, has been selected to compete for New Zealand at the World University Beach Volleyball Champs later in the year in Cyprus.

ENDS

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