2018 OMA CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUNEDIN
Dunedin turned on great weather and a warm welcome to the over 350 entrants for the 2018 (2017) OMA championships. Dunedin is a beautiful historic city and there were many tourist attractions to visit when not competing.
The LOC headed by Joan Merrilees had done a marvellous job of arranging the program, facilities and all associated matters. The event was well supported by local government and sponsors. The dedicated and well qualified officials from New Zealand and Australia, lead by John Phillips, kept the competition running smoothly over the seven days.
Performance levels of this championship were outstanding with 64 new OMA championship records set, together with many New Zealand and Australian national and club records. The Clem Green Trophy for the highest age graded performance of 94.57% in the 1500m was awarded to Louisa Abram W55 of Australia for her time of 4:59.36.
Having a Call Room was a new experience for some athletes, but they soon adapted to this requirement. Drug Testing was conducted for the first time at an OMA championship and will be a feature for future championships.
The Opening Ceremony treated the athletes to a rousing Bagpipe rendition by the Caledonian Society of Otago and a traditional welcome was performed by a group from a local high school. The Athletes Form with its topic of “Travelling as an Athlete”, presented by Raylene Bates, was most informative and will assist those who travel overseas for WMA competition. The Athletes Dinner held at Toitu, the Early Settlers Museum, was a very relaxed and enjoyable occasion with the Piping of the Haggis and Scottish dancing entertaining the guests. The work of the LOC was acknowledged during the evening together with thanks to Stan Perkins whose term of office as WMA President finishes in Malaga in September and to Wilma Perkins who has retired from Council.
The OMA Council met prior to the Assembly Annual General Meeting, held on the non-competition day. The next OMA championships were confirmed to be held at Mackay, North Queensland 31 August-7 September 2019, and the bid from Athletics Norfolk Island to host the 2021 OMA championships in January that year was accepted by Council. Two new Council members were elected – Joan Merrilees NZL and Tim Rogers NFI. Seven Honorary Life Memberships were awarded during the AGM.
The OMA Council thanks all who participated in making the 19th Oceania Masters Athletics Championships such a memorable event.
2012 – Tauranga, New Zealand
The 16th OMA Championships was well attended with a total of 472 competitors representing 13 different countries. As was expected, Australia (180) and New Zealand (258) fielded the largest teams with New Caledonia (13), Cook Islands (9), French Polynesia (2), Marshall Islands (1), Tonga (1), Belgium (2), Czech Republic (1), India (2), Mexico (1), United Kingdom (3) and United States of America (1) contributing to the international flavour of the event.
The facilities in Tauranga were excellent. The near-new track and sunny but mild weather conditions gave every competitor the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability. The non-stadia venues were well marked, scenic courses, with the 10km road walk and the half marathon taking the athletes along the foreshore of the Bay of Plenty. A challenging course was set for the 8km cross-country.
The LOC, headed by Murray Clarkson, together with local and overseas officials and volunteers provided well-organised competition.
WMA President Stan Perkins attended these championships and provided welcome assistance with medal presentations. Serge Beckers, WMA Vice President (Stadia) also attended as a competitor.
The traditional rest day allowed many of the athletes to visit iconic sites in the region including the thermal region of Rotorua and the Waitomo Caves. The Athletes’ Dinner, held at the local sailing club was well supported.
2014 – Bendigo, Australia
Bendigo in central Victoria Australia was the host city for the 17th Oceania Masters Athletics championships held 4-12 January 2014. With a population of around 100,000 people Bendigo catered very well for tourists and this was one of the many highlights of these championships. With a history of goldmining from the boom times of the 1850s, many of the magnificent old buildings reflecting the wealth of the region at that time have been preserved, and there was a strong Chinese presence in the city with many restaurants offering traditional dishes. With the championships being held in the peak holiday season in the region, the event attracted 498 athletes.
As expected, Australia was well represented with 404 and New Zealand with 65 athletes. A group of 17 athletes entered from Sri Lanka, together with athletes from Malaysia, Nepal, Czech Republic and USA, Fiji, Cook Islands and Nauru. January is summer-time in Australia. To ‘beat the heat’ and with daylight saving, the LOC scheduled all events for the cooler mornings, leaving the afternoons free for the athletes and their families to enjoy the hospitality and sights of this former goldmining city. On arriving in Bendigo competitors were surprised (and the long distance runners delighted) to find the weather was cold and windy. The weather continued to be cool for most of the week but the worst aspect was the wind which was quite strong and unpredictable with about -4 to -6 wind factor down the straight.
The Bendigo Athletics Centre had excellent facilities. It was well equipped with an eight lane track, jump and throwing facilities and the sign in system and call room ensured the program schedule was on maintained. Officials were well looked catered for and an excellent canteen supplied wholesome food for the athletes and spectators. The non-stadia venues were very well planned for both competitor and spectator interest. The well shaded Rosalind Park in the centre of Bendigo was the venue for the 10km road walk and the four lap half marathon course took in the tree-lined park paths and a circuit around the very picturesque Lake Weeroona. The cross country at the local horse-race track saw Steve Moneghetti , one of Australia’s star runners competing for the first time in a Masters event finishing in a time just over 26 minutes. A highlight of these championships was the nearly 100 Oceania, Australian and New Zealand records set during the event.
The medals awarded during the championships were of a very high quality and featured the area’s Chinese heritage. Lavinia Petrie (W70) of Australia set a new world record in the half marathon and in addition to her gold medals for the 800m, 8km cross country and half marathon, Lavinia was the recipient of the Clem Green Trophy for the second time. Her performance of 6:06.00 in the 1500m event gave her an age graded mark of over 100%. This is the first time the trophy has been won twice by the same athlete since the trophy was introduced at the 1990 Championships in Auckland in recognition of OAVA founding member Clem Green of New Zealand. The new green and gold uniform for the Australian athletes was very much on show throughout the championships and received many complimentary comments. The Opening Ceremony was another highlight of the championships. After the welcoming speeches, children from the local Chinese Society treated athletes and spectators with a performance which included a spectacular display by the Chinese Dragons.
The Closing Ceremony was an acknowledgement of the sponsors and all the work done by the LOC and officials, and the Oceania flag handed over to Athletics Cook Islands who host the next OMA championships in October 2015. The OMA Assembly Annual General Meeting was held during the championships and attended by Affiliates from New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru and a number of observers. WMA President Stan Perkins was in attendance at the AGM and during other meetings with athletes and the Council, he provided an overview of future WMA championships and activities within the various regions. Wilma Perkins’ term of office as OMA President ceased and Lynne Schickert was elected as incoming Oceania President, continuing on as the Oceania regional representative on the WMA Council. The Championships Dinner at the All Seasons Hotel was well attended and was an opportunity for athletes, their families and officials to mix and mingle.
Following on from his cross country win, Steve Moneghetti was the guest speaker at the dinner where he related some of the highlights from his illustrious running career. A tribute was given to Wilma Perkins, on her retirement as OMA President. The meet was very successful conducted by the local organising committee, chaired by Terry Hicks, and ably assisted by a large team of highly qualified Australian and New Zealand officials and well supported by local sponsors. Congratulations and thanks to all.
2015 – COOK ISLANDS
The 18th Oceania Masters Athletics Championships was held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 5- 10 October 2015. A total of 248 athletes competed: Australia 103, NZ 106, Cook Islands 31, Solomon Islands 6, French Polynesia (Tahiti) 1 and the Czech Republic 1. Ina Marsters, President of Athletics Cook Islands and her Local Organising Committee were well supported by local sponsors, officials, volunteers, and government organizations to conduct this event.
The weather was mostly fine around 26c with a couple of rainy days. When not competing, athletes were able to drive around the island (32 kms) and enjoy the beaches, the markets and shopping and the abundance of Coconut trees, Bananas, Mangos and all the tropical fruits. Facilities were very good, with the track and field program held at the National Stadium with its new mondo surface. All events were on time and run very efficiently. Out of Stadia events were held at scenic venues – the 10km Race Walk at Avatiu Wharf, the 8km Cross Country on the Rarotonga Golf course which was undulating with some sandy patches and the very early morning half marathon run along the main road at Tikioki. The Council held meetings and conducted the Assembly AGM at which elections for the Council were held.
WMA President, Stan Perkins was not able to join the Oceania family in Rarotonga and sent his apologies. An impressive Opening Ceremony was held at the Edgewater Resort with a buffet dinner and traditional dancing. The Athletes Dinner was a traditional buffet meal set in the gardens of one of the government buildings. Due to unseasonal cold weather, the table cloths became souvenir wraps for the ladies. The Closing Ceremony was an acknowledgement of the sponsors and all the work done by the LOC and officials, and the Oceania flag handed over to Dunedin hosting the next OMA championships in January 2018. Athletes took home many memories of another wonderful OMA championship experience.