SAINT JOHN – On the backdrop of the Olympic closing ceremonies in London, the North, Central American and Caribbean World Masters Athletics (NCCWMA) Track and Field Championships wrapped up Sunday afternoon in Saint John.
The four-day international event, held at the Canada Games Stadium, hosted 534 athletes from 17 different countries, awarding a total of 858 medals.
“Saint John has done an absolutely wonderful job of hosting both the NCCWMA as well as the Canadian Masters, we couldn’t have been more pleased,” said Paul Osland, president of the Canadian Masters Athletics Association.
“I’ve only heard good things from the athletes.”
Since Thursday, athletes aged 30 and older have been competing in 11 track events, 10 field events and three road and trail events.
“A lot of people think you have to be an elite or a certain level before you can compete, but the truth is anybody can run at these meets,” Osland said.
To host the track and field meet, organizers spent $250,000, including a $100,000 investment in new equipment and upgrades to the facility, said Bill MacMackin, the director of the Saint John Track Club and president of Athletics New Brunswick.
“We bid on this and started the process about two years ago when the meet was wrapping up in Guatemala,” MacMackin said.
“The feedback we’ve had from the athletes is what’s most important. Those that have come to compete have had a wonderful visit in the city and said it was a fantastic week and loved our venue.”
He also took time to thank dozens of volunteers and officials that made the event possible, describing it as a “bonding” moment for the local club.
To close things out organizers hosted a lobster dinner for more than 300 people on Saturday night, complete with a traditional Maritime band.
“One of the big parts about masters track and field is about fellowship, meeting old friends and some healthy competition,” MacMackin said.
For Brian Keaveney, president of the NCCWMA, this was his last track and field event as president of the governing body before stepping down to work as the vice-president of stadia, which includes everything inside the stadium.
He had been president of the international organization for the past eight years.
“We were here in 2007 for the Canadian Championships and from that I knew we would have a successful championship,” Keaveney, said, adding that MacMackin did a superb job in organizing the event.
Next year the Canadian national track and field meet will be held in Regina, Sask.
The NCCWMA has yet to name which city will host the 2014 championships.