Cracker Olympics ca­pers

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘They made movie trail­ers of each sport so ev­ery­one would know how to play, and held prac­tices.’’ Teacher, Raewyn Mor­ris

An Olympic Games with­out New Zealand would be un­think­able. But it hap­pened. New Zealand was de­lib­er­ately ex­cluded from the Ash­hurst School Olympic Games day last week.

Twenty other ‘coun­tries’ took part in the ex­tended learn­ing ses­sion and sports day, but teacher Raewyn Mor­ris said there was method in the ex­clu­sion ‘mad­ness’.

New Zealand was pur­pose­fully left out be­cause most pupils prob­a­bly wanted to be in the Kiwi team.

It would also be un­fair when other teams had to com­pete against any of the girls and boys who had been se­lected to wear the sil­ver fern.

In­stead, New Zealand were de­clared of­fi­cial hosts, leav­ing the other coun­tries to bat­tle it out for the medals.

The 20 teams in na­tional cos­tumes and face­paint, wav­ing hand­made flags and mas­cots, and wear­ing in­di­vid­ual flag tags, as­sem­bled at 9am for a half-hour long open­ing cer­e­mony be­fore tak­ing part in 10 sport­ing fix­tures around the school grounds.

Every as­pect of the games was over­seen by the school’s year 7 and 8 pupils, and that in­cluded se­lect­ing the types of sport­ing events, with teach­ers act­ing only in su­per­vi­sory roles.

‘‘They made movie trail­ers of each sport so ev­ery­one would know how to play, and held prac­tices,’’ Mor­ris said.

Along with usual Olympics events such as soc­cer and hockey, hand­ball, team re­lays and ath­let­ics, there were al­ter­nate games such as dodge­ball and ul­ti­mate fris­bee, tug-a-war, nukem ball - a mod­i­fied ver­sion of vol­ley­ball so even new en­trants could play - and cap­ture the flag.

Se­nior pupils con­trib­uted as refs, time­keep­ers, score­keep­ers, de­sign­ers, mar­ket­ing and me­dia.

Me­dia rep Gab­bie Drury, 13, said her job was to ask peo­ple how the games were go­ing, and who they thought was go­ing to win.

‘‘Poland, China and USA are the one’s to beat,’’ Gab­bie said after the first three rounds had been com­pleted - though In­dia was mak­ing an un­ex­pect­edly strong show­ing.

Coun­tries won 3 points for a win, 2 for a draw and 1 for a loss.

School pre­fects Bethany Mitchell and Thomas Fow­ell, both 13, ran the open­ing cer­e­mony and were tasked with se­lect­ing par­tic­i­pants for sports­man­ship awards, as well as hand­ing out bonus ‘‘gree­nies’’ - notes that can be re­deemed for spe­cial ac­tiv­ity re­wards at the end of term - to oth­ers do­ing well.

The gold, sil­ver and bronze medals were made out of rounds sliced from a pruned tree branch, and dec­o­rated with a rib­bon and the spe­cially de­signed school Olympics logo.

For the record, Poland topped the medal count with In­dia sec­ond, but school par­tic­i­pa­tion was the win­ner all the way.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Kobi Moore, 8, gives it his all as he com­petes in a tug of war for team Australia dur­ing the Ash­hurst School Olympic Games last week.

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