Whanganui to be represented at national Halberg Games
Two young athletes will wear the Whanganui black and blue with pride this weekend when they attend the national Halberg Games at Kings College, Auckland.
Mason Pye, 17, from Whanganui High School and Theo Franklin-Browne, 12, from St Annes School are heading to the Games, which are open to young people aged 8-21 who have a physical or visual impairment. It is understood that this will be the first time that athletes will officially represent Whanganui in the three-day sports festival.
Mason is already an accomplished athlete having broken para records at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics championships in the 100m, 200m and long jump events. Theo was part of a small group of Whanganui athletes who took part in the regional Halberg Games in Palmerston North, which replaced the 2022 national event after it was cancelled due to COVID.
Theo’s father, Michael Franklin-Browne, says for Theo, who will use a walker to participate in the 50m and 100m events, the event provides motivation and focus as well as an opportunity to be a part of a fun event.
“The Games are a chance for the athletes and their families to make connections and build a network which is so important. You get to meet and connect with people who really understand what’s going on, share the experience and problem solve.”
Sport Whanganui’s Disability and Inclusion Lead, Sarah Craig, will travel to Auckland with Mason and meet Theo and his family at the Games.
“Sport Whanganui provided new uniforms for the boys, and with the generous support of Bukholt Sport Support who funded airfares and registrations, Mason and Theo are set to go,” says Sarah.
“The programme for the weekend includes several sports and activities both competitive and participation focused, ranging from swimming, badminton and archery to rock climbing, skate sports and virtual reality.
“There is a firm emphasis on fun with opportunities to dress up and take part in social events like a quiz night, as well as the official opening and closing ceremonies,” says Sarah Craig.
Sport Whanganui’s aim is to continue to grow participation in events like the Halberg Games, and there are plans in the works for a training group for young athletes with varying needs.
“This is just the beginning. We know the benefits that sport and recreation – being active – can bring to all tamariki and rangatahi and are committed to working alongside our partners to develop opportunities for young people to be active, play and have fun with their peers.”
The programme for the national Halberg Games begins with an opening ceremony at 11.30am on Friday 14 April, and results and more information about the Games can be found at halberggames.co.nz.