More than 8000 competitors are making their way to Geelong in Victoria to participate in what has become regarded as one of Australia’s largest sporting competitions – the Australian Masters Games.
Seasoned professionals and sporting novices will compete in 54 sports for the 19,500 gold, silver and bronze medals on offer. For some, it’s a chance to put their training to the test, for others it’s all for the fun of it!
Held biennially, this year the action will take place between 5 and 12 October and for participant and patron Ross Synot, it’s the opportunity to not only take part in the fun of competition, but to take on a new challenge. After many successful years competing in badminton, Ross will tackle the sport of table tennis.
“I’ve been to every Australian Masters Games except 2011 and have travelled all over Australia, from Hobart, to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and more,” Ross says enthusiastically. “My wife and I played badminton with a great group of friends and we used to make the Australian Masters Games our holiday. “After the last games I hurt every time I hit a shot so I’m going back to the first sport I ever played, as a kid with a net strewn across the kitchen table. “It wasn’t the right size, but we had a lot of fun
“And, that’s what the Games are about,” Ross confesses.
“I’ve captained Australian badminton teams, travelled to America with the sport. “I’ve had that type of success and this year I’m looking forward to having a couple of mates play in the table tennis.” We are calling ourselves the Noble Street Survivors. “We will be happy if we have fun and come last,” Ross laughs.
Ross helped bring the Games to Geelong when it was last held there in 2009. He has been an Ambassador for the event and also been privileged to read the competitor’s oath. His efforts lobbying council and governments, and raising funds, have earned him the role of Patron for this year’s competition. As Ross sees it, his major role is to encourage everyone who likes to travel, play sport and have fun, to join in The Masters Games.
“You don’t have to be a certain standard to play,” Ross admits. “You just have the will to play. “Not everyone’s going to win but everyone can take part. “Whether you’re good or not it’s your turn to play in your Olympic Games.”
Another renowned local, Australia’s most watched sport presenter, author, engineer, 10-time Australian water ski champion and marathon bike rider, Mark Beretta, is also taking on a new challenge in this year’s event. As we as being the Australian Masters Games Ambassador he will tackle Dragon Boat racing.
“I’m excited to return to my home town with my family and showcase Geelong to the rest of Australia. “It will be an exciting week of sport and entertainment, and Dragon Boat is going to be something foreign to me but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Beretta says. “I have always participated in sport and the Australian Masters Games is another great way for people to stay active in a fun atmosphere,” he says.
Beretta’s participation exemplifies what organising committee chair Ken Selway talks about.
“The Australian Masters Games highlights the importance of life balance and the role sport plays within the community. “We are proud to offer people from around Australia and the world the opportunity to come to Geelong and join in the festival of sport and entertainment,” Selway says. “We have provided a program that delivers something for everyone, with so many sports on offer at the Australian Masters Games.”
“The beauty of the Australian Masters Games, like Mark (Beretta) trying Dragon Boat for the first time, it allows you to participate in a sport you might have played as a kid or something completely new.”
As well as a robust sporting program, the Masters Games is a jam-packed social event. The official opening ceremony features the band Mental as Anything alongside long-time Aussie favourite James Reyne. Pseudo Echo will headline the closing.
Games Director Ian Fitzpatrick says: “Whilst it is sport and camaraderie that brings our 8000 plus participants together, the entertainment program is an important element of the overall participant experience and helps separate the Games from the week in, week out masters competition”.
For more information, go to www.australianmastersgames.com.
“I have always participated in sport and the Australian Masters Games is another great way for people to stay active in a fun atmosphere.” Mark Beretta