World Masters Games 2017 Ambassadors Go Head to Head in Multi-Sport Challenge

There was pride at stake when two of New Zealand’s former sporting greats spent a day going head to head in a World Masters Games 2017 multi-sport challenge.

Former All Whites striker Noah Hickey and three-time surf life saving ironman world champion Cory Hutchings were pushed out of their comfort zones when they were asked to compete in a day-long challenge featuring archery, golf, mountain biking and waka ama.

All of the sports feature in the programme of the World Masters Games 2017, the world’s largest multi-sport event, being hosted by Auckland from 21-30 April 2017.

The face-off, which took the athletes on a journey from Cornwall Park to Murawai to Takapuna Beach, was filmed to help showcase destination Auckland to the thousands of athletes who will travel to New Zealand for the Games.

Twenty-five thousand athletes are expected to compete from 100 countries around the world. Australia, Canada, the UK, Russia and Brazil are among those nations that avidly support masters sport.

Noah and Cory, both official ambassadors of the World Masters Games 2017, didn’t hold back during the high-spirited challenge, which tested both mind and body.

There was only one-twelfth of a second between the pair on their mountain bike time trial and the other contests were similarly close, including an epic finish on the water to determine the overall winner.

“I have a whole new appreciation for masters athletes,” said 33-test All White Noah Hickey. “I bruised my arm in the archery challenge, strained my back teeing off into a gale at Muriwai Golf Course and then trashed my thighs in the mountain bike time trial at Woodhill Forest.

“But through all the pain I took comfort in the knowledge that, unlike Cory, I didn’t fall out of my waka ama.”

Hutchings said it was more than his pride hurting when he over-balanced and ended up in the water during the waka ama challenge.

“I was supposed to be the Old Man of the Sea, not the Old Man in the Sea, but the cold water helped my recovery after the previous challenges so I wasn’t too upset.”

Chief Executive of World Masters Games 2017, Jennah Wootten, said Cory and Noah were good sports during the challenge.

“It’s a bit of a joke that masters athletes like to complain about their ailments, so the boys are fitting right in,” she said.

“In all seriousness, it’s great that as ambassadors of the Games, they can help communicate the message that masters sport is not just for much older people. You can be a masters athlete in your 20s. And you can be a masters athlete for the enjoyment as much as the competitive factor. It’s an incredibly inclusive event.”

Ms Wootten, just back from the European Masters Games in Nice, says its humbling to see so many people from around the world gather together for one thing – the love of sport.

“The World Masters Games is a little known movement in New Zealand, but overseas, participation in masters sport at competitive level is popular and held in high regard. Those who compete do so with true passion, right throughout their lives,” she said.

“We are a sporting nation, but New Zealand does fall short when it comes to participation later in life. We’re hoping that the World Masters Games, when it comes to New Zealand in 2017, will galvanise kiwis to reconsider the role that sport plays in their lives.”

The challenge has also confirmed the collaboration of World Masters Games 2017 and its new vehicle partner, Volvo Cars New Zealand. Cory and Noah drove the all-new Volvo V60 Cross Country sports wagon around the competition circuit.

Volvo Cars New Zealand General Manager Steve Kenchington said the company was committed to New Zealand and invested in the vision of making the ninth edition of the World Masters Games the “best ever”.

“It’s more than providing transport solutions. It’s about expanding our role as a supporter of major events, which bring both economic and social benefit to our country. We want to assist in maximizing awareness of the event at home and on the world stage, given participants will originate from more than a hundred different countries,” he said.

Registrations for WMG2017, the biggest event New Zealand will host in the next decade, are due to open in February 2016. Hutchings and Hickey will definitely be entering.

Hutchings, 43, says he will probably stick to surf life saving events if a problematic shoulder doesn’t play up too much. Hickey, 37, is striving to organise a reunion of football friends.

“It’s great to have a legitimate reason to reconnect with former team mates,” Hickey said.

“Football is top-of-mind at the moment but I’m also keen to go outside my comfort zone and try a new sport, maybe something gentle like lawn bowls. I’ve had a crack at archery and mountain biking now and I’m going to leave those gems to the professionals!”

To see #CORYvsNOAH in the full Volvo Challenge video (compered by World Championship-winning Silver Fern netballer and #WMG2017 ambassador Anna Stanley) click here.

For further information please contact:

Dean McLachlan, World Masters Games 2017, Communications Manager, tel: 027 7822110

Zachary Burt, Volvo, Product & Marketing Manager, tel: 021 247 7105

About World Masters Games 2017

The World Masters Games is the largest multi-sport event in the world.  In terms of athlete numbers, it is bigger in scale than even the Olympics.  Auckland will host the event from 21 to 30 April 2017 during which time 25,000 athletes will compete in 28 sports across 45+ competition venues.  The Games are regarded as the largest event New Zealand will host in at least the next decade. For more information visit www.worldmastersgames2017.co.nz

About Barfoot & Thompson:

Barfoot & Thompson is the presenting partner for World Masters Games 2017.  It is New Zealand’s largest, privately owned real estate company and is still run by the Barfoot and Thompson families after more than 90 years.  Barfoot & Thompson consistently sells around one in three homes in the Auckland region and manages more than 11,000 rental properties, well ahead of competitor brands. For more information visit www.barfoot.co.nz

About Volvo Cars:

Volvo, sponsor and owner of the Volvo Ocean Race, has supported golf since 1988 and is the oldest sponsor on the European Tour, organising the Volvo Golf Champions, the Volvo China Open and the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Volvo Cars New Zealand has been closely linked to the sailing fraternity in New Zealand with key sponsorships with Yachting New Zealand and the Sir Peter Black Torbay Regatta.

About World Masters Games 2017 valued partners:

World Masters Games would like to thank its valued partners:  Barfoot & Thompson, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), International Masters Games Association (IMGA), Air New Zealand, SKYCITY Auckland, Pita Pit, NZCT and Volvo Cars New Zealand.

About the ambassadors and athletes featured in the video:

Noah Hickey

A decade-long career playing for the All Whites and one of a small group of New Zealand footballers to win a title in Europe, Noah Hickey is one of the most recognised faces of the beautiful game in this country. He has carried his passion for the sport into the media and business, including his role as an expert commentator for TVNZ’s 2014 FIFA World Cup coverage and, prior to retiring from football, through the SHINE mentoring programme, he developed to help talented young New Zealanders strive to reach their potential. Noah is also one the General Manager of one of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies, Pushpay.

Noah is big on getting involved and believes masters’ sport is a wonderful way for people to work towards a goal, whether it’s winning a gold medal or simply participating.  His role as a director of Phoenix FC also allows him to keep involved and contribute to the growth of football in this country.

Bowls appeals to Noah as a possible sport option for #WMG2017, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility of lacing up the boots and getting the team back together for the football competition. “My final choice of sport will be largely dependent on how the body is holding up, however, I do know the opportunity to show off the wonderful city that is Auckland is one not to be missed,” he said. “It is a truly amazing achievement for the city to host an event of this size.”

Cory Hutchings

Surf life saving Ironman must be one of the toughest sports going and they don’t get any better than three-time world champion and 11 time New Zealand titleholder Cory Hutchings. The chance to get back into the water competitively is one of the attractions of World Masters Games 2017 for Cory whose involvement in the sport these days is coaching 30 to 40 up and coming young surf lifesavers at Gisborne’s Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club.

“Masters sports is a great motivator to get people training and competing – whether they’re former professionals or novices,” says Cory.  “For me personally it’s a way to stay actively involved in something I love and have a real passion for.”

While many kiwis will remember Cory’s sporting achievements they may not be so familiar with his cameo appearance on the iconic American lifesaving TV programme Baywatch acting alongside Pamela Anderson and the Hoff – “a right hoot and bit of fun”.

Anna Stanley, MNZM

One of the few New Zealand netball captains to claim a clean sweep series victory over the Australians, a World Championship title and Commonwealth Games gold medal, Anna Stanley is already an advocate for world masters sport.

Anna, whose sporting success started in her younger years as a track athlete and included representing New Zealand at the Pan Pacific Games, will be joining two of her former New Zealand international athletes to form a 4 x 400m track relay team for 2017 and the threesome are seeking a fourth team member to join them. The Sky Sport TV netball commentator is also not discounting getting a group of mates together to make up a netball team but says whatever sports she competes in at the Games, she encourages anyone to have a go as a means of keeping fit and active and forging new friendships. “The camaraderie and social side of masters sports sounds like a lot of fun and for that reason alone I would encourage people to come along in 2017,” she says.