The 2017 Anchor AIMS Games have proved a record-breaker, both on the fields and courts and in cyberspace.
With 10,139 athletes competing in 21 sporting codes in Tauranga last week, the annual intermediate-aged games fielded their largest turnout ever. The six-day tournament culminated with a number of finals on Friday, with Auckland schools taking home a number of the team gold medals on offer.
However, it was the online records that really astounded tournament director Vicki Semple.
For the first time, the daily AIMS Games highlight packages were screened through TVNZ’s One News Now website, with more than 120,000 views during the week. The tournament website has received more than 7 million hits in September alone, nearly more than all the previous years put together, while live-streamed coverage peaked at an incredible 28,000 during Friday’s finals.
“Every year, we invest more and more into our website capability and every year, the dramatic increase in traffic takes us by surprise,” Semple said. “We were able to scramble through last week but there were a few times when things really started to slow down and creak, because of the sheer volume. For instance, we had 1.3 million hits on Monday and 375,000 hits before 9am on Tuesday alone. It just shows how popular the tournament is, both to supporters and schools in New Zealand and friends and family overseas.”
Much of the live-streamed footage is now available on demand on the tournament website, here.
Semple rated the 2017 Games ‘a huge success’ and has been inundated with messages from parents and schools praising the tournament and the memories it has produced for the athletes. Having successfully incorporated para-athletes into the 2017 tournament, the AIMS Games Trust will now review the participating sports and plan for next year’s tournament, making sure there’s an achievable balance between providing quality competition to as many athletes as possible.
There’s also significant interest from a number of other sporting codes to be involved but their participation has to be weighed up against venue availability and scheduling.
Meanwhile, a number of future stars were unveiled at this year’s tournament, including giant basketballers, talented rugby sevens teams and small South Auckland schools winning netball titles. There was a one-shoed Christchurch runner taking out one of the big titles in the cross country and a 13-year-old coaching prodigy from Te Awamutu in the basketball, along with a Chinese-raised tennis player dominating the girls’ draw.
Choppy conditions on Tauranga Harbour caused havoc in the sailing, especially for one Remuera schoolgirl and a young Tauranga kayaker proved the pride of his school community when he won a canoe slalom crown.
One Wellington schoolboy overcame amazing odds in the indoor bowls while Christchurch’s Darsha Keogan made history, becoming the first female to foot it with the boys in the soccer tournament.
A sizeable international contingent also added to the flavour of the tournament, including Tongan and Cook Island badminton players and Australian BMXers .
Napier’s Taradale Intermediate won the Teammates Cup for sportsmanship at the games, while after years of trying, Bucklands Beach finally managed to win the overall medal table, heading off Tauranga Intermediate and Mount Maunganui Intermediate.
Full results can be found here!