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Milestone looms for massive sporting tournament

Milestone looms for massive sporting tournament

Sailing will make its debut at this year's NZCT AIMS Games in Tauranga. Credit: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

August 31 2015

This year's NZCT AIMS Games has cracked another milestone, breaking through the 8000-athlete barrier for the first time.

With late entries providing a final burst, 8007 intermediate-aged competitors from 261 schools across New Zealand will be in Tauranga from this weekend (September 6-11), battling it out across 19 different sporting codes.

The massive numbers include 1164 netballers, 640 rugby players, 644 cross country runners and 768 basketballers. Yachting's debut has also attracted strong interest, with 64 sailors lining up for the Anchor-sponsored on-water event.

The tournament has grown every single year since it started in 2004 and tournament director Vicki Semple said it has started to create its own legacy.

"When we first started out with a few hundred competitors, we never would've dreamed the event would grow so much," she said. "The best part is that it gives every competitor the chance to compete in an event that's bigger than the Commonwealth Games and nearly as large as the Olympics, soaking up all the great things about sport like camaraderie, adventure and competition. By the end of next week, another 8000 athletes will be heading home inspired."

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The geographical spread of schools competing is impressive - 19 Northland schools have entered, with 18 schools heading up from the South Island. Oturu School cross country runner Jayde Florian, based just out of Kaitaia, is the northernmost competitor, while Tahuna Normal Intermediate swimmers Charlotte Underwood-Nicol and Madison Wills are making the trek up from Dunedin.

A number of schools - such as Taranaki's Auroa School, Taihape's Rangiwaea School and Breens Intermediate in Christchurch - are represented by just one athlete, while at the other end of the scale, Tauranga Intermediate has 24 teams competing across the 19 sports, Mount Maunganui Intermediate 23 and Bucklands Beach Intermediate in Auckland 17.

There's no shortage of talent either. Bucklands Beach will again feature the lowest handicapped golfer at the tournament, with Rose Zheng - playing off a 2 - back to defend the girls' title she won last year as a Year 7.

Nathan Xu (Wairau Intermediate) is a rising table tennis prodigy, while future stars across all sports are liberally sprinkled through.

The tournament has already built up an impressive alumni - the likes of junior All White Alex Rufer was a prodigy in Palmerston North Normal Intermediate's title-winning AIMS Games squad in 2009, while world champion double sculls rower Zoe Stevenson played hockey for Tauranga Intermediate in 2004. World champion surf lifesaver Danielle McKenzie was a multisport marvel from Murrays Bay Intermediate in 2006 and 2007, while New Zealand women's sevens player Tyler Nathan Wong (Blockhouse Bay) was in the girls' soccer tournament team in 2007.

"Some of our early athletes are already out there as elites, competing on the world stage," Semple said. "We're also seeing former sporting internationals line up to coach their local school teams and ensuring that future stars will continue to emerge from all manner of codes."

And it's not just the athletes who benefit from the week-long tournament - the wider Bay of Plenty also gets a big boost.

An economic benefit study last year found the tournament generated 37,500 visitor nights and contributed $1.96 million to western Bay of Plenty's economy, while it was also recognised for event excellence at the annual Sport New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards in Auckland recently.

"This event is now a significant contributor to the economic prosperity of our city and that's reflected in the support Tauranga City Council gives it each year," Pip Loader, TCC's manager for strategic events, said. "It's shaken up Tauranga's reputation as a summer-only city and shows the region can host major events all year round."

The massive interest this year has also given organisers a further challenge - hockey, tennis and water polo competitions are all at capacity, while netball has a full draw of 96 teams taking part.

*The NZCT AIMS (Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools) Games is a strategic partnership between Sport Bay of Plenty, the four Western Bay intermediate schools and the Tauranga City Council. It gives 11, 12 and 13-year-olds an opportunity to compete as an individual or in a team against the best of their age in 17 different sports. The aim of the event is to provide opportunities for the student in the middle years to compete at an elite level, be active, celebrate fair play and enjoy success.

Have you got schools attending from your area? See list below and let us know - we will have high-res imagery and media services available during the week.

Where they're from:

NORTHLAND: Ahipara School, Kaitaia Abundant Life School, Kaitaia Intermediate, Maungatapere School, Otamatea High School, Parua Bay School, Pompallier Catholic College, Purua School, Ruawai College, Tangiteroria School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro, Tikipunga High School, Whangarei Intermediate, Whangaroa College, Huanui College, Kamo Intermediate, Kerikeri High School, Manaia View School, Oturu School.

AUCKLAND: Albany Junior High School, Ararimu School, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Balmoral School (Auckland), Baradene College, Beachlands School, Belmont Intermediate, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate, Bombay School, Buckland School, Bucklands Beach Intermediate, Carmel College, Churchill Park School, De La Salle College, Diocesan School Auckland, Elim Christian College, Farm Cove Intermediate, Finlayson Park School, Glen Eden Intermediate, Glendowie School, Glenfield Intermediate, Helensville School, Henderson Intermediate, Hobsonville School, Holy Cross School (Papatoetoe), Howick Intermediate, Karaka School, Kaukapakapa School, Kings School (Remuera), Kingsway School, Kohimarama School, Kristin School, Liston College, Mangatangi School, Marcellin College, Marina View School, Marist College, Michael Park School, Mission Heights Junior College, Murrays Bay Intermediate, Northcote Intermediate, Northcross Intermediate, Onewhero Area School, Orewa College, Pasadena Intermediate, Pinehurst School Inc (Jnr), Pokeno School, Pukekohe Intermediate, Pukeoware School, Randwick Park School, Redoubt North School, Remuera Intermediate, Reremoana Primary School, Rosmini College, Royal Oak Intermediate School, Sacred Heart College (Akld), Saint Kentigern Boys' School (Remuera), Saint Kentigern College, Sancta Maria College, Sandspit Road School, Somerville Intermediate School, St Cuthbert's College, St Kentigern School for Girls - Corran, St Mary's College (Akld), St Peter's College (Akld), St Thomas's School (Akld), Strathallan College, Takapuna Normal Intermediate, Te Atatu Intermediate, Te Hihi School, Tuakau College, Waiheke High School, Waikowhai Intermediate, Waimauku School, Waioneke School, Wairau Intermediate, Wentworth College, Whangaparaoa College.

WAIKATO: Amisfield School, Berkley Normal Middle School, Cambridge Middle School, Fairfield Intermediate, Hautapu School (Cambridge), Hilltop School, Horotiu School, Horsham Downs School, Kio Kio School, Koromatua School, Maeroa Intermediate, Maihiihi School, Marion Catholic School, Marotiri School, Matamata Intermediate, Morrinsville Intermediate, Otorohanga South School, Parawai School, Peachgrove Intermediate, Pirongia School, Pukenui School (Te Kuiti), Puketaha School, Rangitoto School, Southwell School, St Columba's Catholic School (Frankton), St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield), St Mary's Catholic School (Putaruru), St Patrick's Catholic School (Taupo), St Peter Chanel Catholic School (Te Rapa), St Peter's Catholic (Cambridge), St Peter's School (Cambridge), Taupo Intermediate, Te Awamutu Intermediate, Te Kowhai School, Te Pahu School, Te Wharekura O Rakaumangamanga, Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere, Waihi College, Whangamata Area School.

BAY OF PLENTY: Aquinas College, Ashbrook School, Awakeri School, Bethlehem College, Galatea School, John Paul College, Kaitao Middle School, Katikati College, Matahui Road School, Mokoia Intermediate, Mt Maunganui Intermediate, Murupara Area School, Ngakuru School, Omokoroa No 1 School, Omokoroa Point School, Opotiki Primary School, Oropi School, Otakiri School, Otamarakau School, Otumoetai Intermediate, Papamoa College, Pongakawa School, Pukehina School, Pyes Pa School, Rangitaiki Independent School, Reporoa College, Rotorua Intermediate, Rudolf Steiner School (Tauranga), St Joseph's Catholic School (Whakatane), Tahatai Coast School, Taneatua School, Tarawera High School, Tauranga Adventist School, Tauranga Intermediate School, Tauriko School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Kura Kokiri, Te Kura o Matapihi, Te Kura o Te Paroa, Te Kura o Te Teko, Te Puke Intermediate, Te Puna School, Te Ranga School, Te Wharekura o Mauao, Whakatane Intermediate.

GISBORNE: Campion College, Gisborne Intermediate, Hatea-A-Rangi, Ilminster Intermediate, Tolaga Bay Area School.

HAWKE'S BAY: Flaxmere Primary School, Hastings Intermediate, Havelock North Intermediate, Hereworth School, Lindisfarne College, Napier Intermediate, Pukehou School, St Joseph's School (Wairoa), Tamatea Intermediate, Taradale Intermediate, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa, Wairoa College.

TARANAKI: Auroa Primary School, Devon Intermediate, Francis Douglas Memorial College, Highlands Intermediate, Mangorei School, Oakura School, St Joseph's (Hawera), Stratford School.

MANAWATU-WANGANUI: Cornerstone Christian School, Linton Camp School, Mataroa School, Monrad Intermediate School, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, Rangiwaea School, Ross Intermediate, Wanganui Intermediate, Whakarongo School.

WELLINGTON: Chilton St James School, Corinna School, Evans Bay Intermediate, Hunterville Consolidated School, Hutt Intermediate, Hutt International Boys' School, Masterton Intermediate, Raroa Normal Intermediate, Samuel Marsden Collegiate, South Wellington Intermediate, St Joseph's School (Upper Hutt), Tawa Intermediate, Levin Intermediate, Maidstone Intermediate, Naenae Intermediate.

TASMAN: Nelson Intermediate, St Joseph's School (Nelson), Waimea Intermediate school, Bohally Intermediate (Marlborough).

CANTERBURY: Breens Intermediate, Chisnallwood Intermediate, Christ the King School, Cobham Intermediate, Heaton Normal Intermediate, Kirkwood Intermediate, Marshland School, Medbury Prep. School, Oxford Area School, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Selwyn House School, St Margaret's College, Westburn School.

OTAGO: Tahuna Normal Intermediate.


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