21 Apr 2017

Pacific athletes to compete in the World Masters Games

3:59 pm on 21 April 2017

A Samoan grandmother is among competitors from the Pacific competing at the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland.

The multi-sport event for athletes over the age of 35 kicks off today.

Held every four years, the World Masters is a global multi-sport event for athletes of masters age and of all fitness levels.

Nearly seven thousand athletes from Auckland will participate in the 2017 World Masters Games and among the lot are Pacific athletes who will represent New Zealand.

A Samoan grandmother will be competing in three sports: athletics, netball and touch rugby.

Agnes Boxall said she had always loved athletics and it was her daughter that got her back on her feet.

"I mainly followed on from my daughter actually who I used to always take along to her trainings and just sit and watch," she said.

"And then after a while I thought, well while she's there training I could be doing something, so hence why I went back to athletics, which I loved when I was doing it in high school really."

A challenge for Mrs Boxall during the lead up to the games has been trying to balance working full time, being a grandmother and training.

She said despite that, the bigger picture of living a healthier lifestyle has been gold.

"For me it's for myself and my family saying no matter what your age is, you can still keep active. I just want to be a healthy elderly person."

For some Pacific athletes participating in the World Masters, it's a comeback to a sport they love.

New Zealand Volleyball Representative Hollice Palelei (#9).

New Zealand Volleyball Representative Hollice Palelei (#9). Photo: Supplied

Former head coach of the New Zealand senior women's volleyball team Hollice Palelei will be stepping back onto the court himself.

Mr Palelei felt honoured to represent New Zealand, especially knowing how rare the opportunity was for Pacific athletes.

"There's not many Pacific island people who get to represent New Zealand at a big stage and I just see it as a big honour to carry on my family's name and also my community in such an event."

The members in the volleyball team are based all over New Zealand and haven't had the opportunity to train together.

He said the team had relied on their experience in the sport heading into the games.

"A few weeks back just before the New Zealand secondary school volleyball champs we actually got together, had a hit out, had a training run. Basically some of the boys still had the skills and the knowledge of playing."

The World Masters Games features 28 different sports and runs for 10 days.