SA Masters Games a hit

FRESH faced and eager to hit the ground running, hundreds flooded into Naracoorte for the SA Masters Games on the weekend.

Eighteen sports were held over the course of four days, evoking great competition, new friendships and lots of laughs, as well as leaving some competitors with more than a few sore muscles.

All 1000 mature aged athletes embraced the events and visitors made the most of their time in the town, supporting the vidual sporting clubs and local businesses.

People came from all over the country including Perth, Sydney, Alice Springs, western Victoria and parts of SA.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery rated the overall event a "great success".

It (the SA Masters Games) lived up to our expectations. - Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery.

"It lived up to our expectations," she said.

"The atmosphere all the venues was cheerful and friendly, I don't think I heard anyone say they weren't enjoying themselves."

While soccer and motorkhana had to be scratched at the last minute due to lack of numbers, two new events proved popular.

Swimming was held at the Naracoorte Swimming Lake and dragon boat racing at Cockatoo Lake.

Games coordinator Jan Bittner said the committee strived to make the games "unique" to Naracoorte .

"It really does showcase our area to people who might not normally get down here and word of mouth is the best advertising," she said.

"It was great to have the ABC broadcast on Friday morning, we had a lot of comments about that, and it brought the games into people's homes."

Local businesses who were open over the weekend really noticed the extra people around.

"Sweet Espresso had over an hour wait for coffees at nine on Saturday morning," Mrs Bittner said.

"Ormerod Pics and Pieces were busy up until about 2pm and they would have stayed open longer if they needed. Van Leuven's did a bit longer and offered some extra things...MiniJumbuk did a good trade.

"The hotels did very well as did the sporting clubs."

Mrs Bittner said she appreciated those who took the effort to decorate their shop windows, including the major sponsors.

Six will receive certificates of appreciation and the top three who embraced the theme the most - Heard Bros, Betta Electrical and Trends - will split the prize money.

The SA Masters Games started with an opening ceremony on Friday evening which was well attended.

Athletes walked the length of Ormerod St in a march led by highland pipe band members before everyone gathered at the sound shell in the town square for formalities led by the previous games coordinator Scott Lawrie, who was the man behind the 2011 SA Masters Games.

After a full day of competition on Saturday, on Sunday it was time for the feature event, the Masters Mile, followed by the cycling criterium.

Both attracted a strong crowd of spectators who also enjoyed browsing the craft and produce market adjacent to the action.

"It went really well," Mrs Bittner said.

"A lot of local people have told us that they thought the market was one of the best Naracoorte has had because of the greater variety of stalls. People also loved the fact it was in the square. There was a great vibe."

Mrs Vickery added that other local events on over the weekend further contributed to the buzz around town.

"It was super busy with the races on Sunday and the pigeon and poultry club auction...I know some people went to have a look at those," she said. "It all added to the atmosphere."

On Sunday afternoon the SA Masters Games were officially closed and the flag was handed over to Clare Gilbert Valley Council which will host the event in 2015.

"They were most impressed for a smaller country town like us to have the venues and facilities we do," Mrs Vickery said.

Naracoorte hosted the games back in 2011, a good starting point to organising it again this time around.

"There were some things that went very smoothly because we've done it before," Mrs Bittner said.

"What we did well in 2011 we did well again but some things also cropped up that we had never experienced before.

"The sporting coordinators certainly improved where they needed to from last time and I think we ran the registration centre better. There's really nothing I'd change if we started over."

Now that the huge event is done and dusted, the Naracoorte community will take a break before making a commitment to host it again.

"We did talk about it but we would need to give the volunteers and the community a bit of a rest first," Mrs Vickery said.

"We would need a push from the community when they're ready for council to consider it."

For all of the Herald's SA Masters games coverage click here.

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