Climbers boost record AIMS Games entries

Tauranga rock climbers Mischa Boorman (left) and Kieran Death, along with Anchor AIMS Games tournament director Vicki Semple. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media


As the Anchor AIMS Games gets set to reach new heights, it’s only fitting that the climbers are on board.

A record 10,851 intermediate-aged competitors have entered September’s week-long long tournament in Tauranga, coming from more than 320 schools all over New Zealand and the Pacific.

For the first time, rock climbing has been included as one of the 22 sporting codes, with the likes of Tauranga 11-year-olds Mischa Boorman and Kieran Death delighted to be getting their chance to shine.

“We heard rock climbing was included earlier this year and I was so excited,” Mount Maunganui Intermediate student Boorman said. “I knew I wanted to go to the AIMS Games in some sport but to get to do it in my favourite one was so cool.”

Death, who has also been in the sport for two years, will represent Aquinas College at the tournament, confident that climbing will slot straight into the massive event.

“It’s going to be huge for our sport because there are already 150 climbers coming and other kids are going to see how good it is,” he said.

The 15th running of the AIMS Games will break more records, after athlete numbers surged through the 10,000-mark last year. An additional 712 athletes will compete this year, nearly the entire number of competitors in the first AIMS Games in 2004.

There will be 83 new schools this year, with entries received from Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Australia, as well as around New Zealand.

Sports like netball, futsal, water polo and indoor bowls have continued to grow, with tournament director Vicki Semple pointing out that the mainstream sports for Kiwi kids are changing.

“For climbing to get 150 entries in its first year is staggering but you only have to see how exciting and skilful the sport is to realise why it will be at the Olympics in 2020,” Semple said. “There’s a real shift happening in youth sport, with so many choices, and codes like Futsal just exploding in popularity. We’re nearing capacity in a lot of our team sports like netball, football and basketball, but these so-called minority sports are going to be a huge source of growth in future.”

Netball remains the largest code, with 124 teams this year featuring 1488 players. Basketball has surged, however, breaking through the 100-team mark with 74 boys’ teams and 33 girls’ teams creating memories for 1264 players. While football numbers have plateaued slightly at 1402 players, that has been offset by Futsal nearly doubling, from 390 players last year to 610 this year.

A record 265 multisport competitors have entered, along with 827 cross country runners and 372 swimmers, while gymnastics will have 500 competitors for the first time. There’s also a small trend away from traditional hockey teams, with the boys’ and girls’ numbers both down, but the 6-aside mixed format adding another 14 teams and taking the total number of hockey players to 1092.

Organisers have made several changes to the tournament this year, most notably with football moving to Papamoa’s Gordon Spratt Reserve and rugby sevens moving from Waipuna Park in Welcome Bay to the tournament hub at Blake Park.

Para-athletes will compete for the second year in a row in swimming and cross country.

– 2018 Anchor AIMS Games – Tauranga
– September 9-14
– 10,851 athletes
– 320 schools
– 22 sports
– By the numbers: badminton 207 players, basketball 107 teams, BMX 95 riders, canoe slalom 46 paddlers, cross country 827 runners, football 100 teams, Futsal 61 teams, golf 61 players, gymnastics 500 athletes, performance 53 groups, hockey 92 teams, multisport 265 athletes, netball 124 teams, rock climbing 150, rugby sevens 57 teams, squash 83 players, swimming 374 swimmers, table tennis 182 players, tennis 106 players, water polo 33 teams, yachting 80 sailors.

The 2018 Anchor AIMS Games will run from September 9-14 at a range of venues across the Western Bay of Plenty. The premier sporting event for 11, 12 and 13 year olds is a strategic partnership between Sport Bay of Plenty, Tauranga City Council and the four Bay of Plenty intermediate schools.