While activity in the various affiliates clearly began at different times, it was the formation of WAVA (WMA from 2001) which became the catalyst for organised competition and the growth of Masters Athletics in the region.
The 4th World Masters Track & Field Championships were held at Christchurch, New Zealand in 1981, and were preceded by the IGAL World Road Race Championships in Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1980. The 7th World Track & Field Championships were held in Melbourne, Australia in 1987.
The 14th WAVA Track & Field Championships were held in Brisbane, Australia in July, 2001, and the WAVA Distance Championships in Auckland, New Zealand in 2004.
These events in our region provided many Oceania Masters with their only chance to compete in WAVA Championships and experience the camaraderie of these events, because of the travel costs involved when the events are held in the northern hemisphere. For many, the Oceania Regional Championships are the only practical opportunity they have to participate in and enjoy international competition.
The original Oceania region representative at WAVA, New Zealand’s Clem Green, developed contacts in many Oceania countries and travelled extensively through the region. It was largely through his efforts that the Oceania Championships finally became a fact of life in 1984. Clem’s efforts were recognised by the awarding of Life Membership of OAVA in 1990.
In 2011 OAMA began trading as Oceania Masters Athletics (OMA) and at the 2012 AGM the name was formally changed to Oceania Masters Athletics Inc.
The participation by David Lobb and Tupui Henry in the 7th Oceania Masters Athletics Championships in Suva, Fiji in July 1994 sparked the initial interest in masters athletics in the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands first medal was won by David Lobb at the 2002 OMA Championships in Geelong, Australia.
Having seen what was involved in the organising of such Championships, David convinced Athletics Cook Islands, of which he was an executive member, that the Cooks could stage such a Championships. In 2000 the Oceania Council at the Norfolk Island Championships approved the Cook Islands bid for the 2004 OMA Championships to be held in Rarotonga.
The hosting of the Oceania Championships on the grass track of Tereora National Stadium in October 2004, provided a catalyst for masters athletics on Rarotonga, with some 27 Cook Islands masters participating in these Championships.
Following the successful hosting of the 2004 OMA Championships, an annual Cook Islands masters athletics meeting has been held on Gospel Day (October 26) each year, which in 2010 was extended to a 3-day event with short athletics programs on the two days preceding Gospel Day.
Despite the Cook Islands, and Rarotonga in particular, having small populations even when compared to some of the other island affiliates, small Cook Island teams have consistently attended OMA Championships. After the Rarotonga Championships the Cook Islands were represented by 12 athletes at the 2006 Christchurch Championships and 11 at the 2008 Townsville Championships, at both of which the Cook Islands won the Inter-Island Challenge Shield for the best Island affiliate team. The biggest and most successful team to travel overseas to an OMA Championships were the 19 athletes and several supporters at the 2010 Tahiti Championships, who returned with 60 medals. The Cook Islands was again represented by 9 athletes at the 2012 Tauranga Championships in New Zealand.
After arriving on Norfolk Island in 1988, Ian Anderson, in conjunction with Graeme Donaldson and John Hicks, formed the Norfolk Island Association of Veteran Athletes. When attending the 4th Oceania Veterans Championships in Noumea, Ian applied for and was awarded the 6th Championships to be held on Norfolk Island in 1992. Held in December, these were attended by 450 athletes from Australia, New Zealand and a number of Pacific islands. Subsequent to these Championships the Norfolk Island Association of Veteran Athletes amalgamated with the re-formed Amateur Athletics Association to form Athletics Norfolk Island.
Because of the small population of Norfolk Island, Athletics Norfolk Island conducts a number of age-factored competitions encompassing athletes of all ages, rather than specific masters events. When Brisbane was awarded the WAVA Championships for 2001, they stepped down from the hosting the 10th Oceania Championships. Norfolk Island took up the challenge and successfully conducted the Oceania Championships for the second time in January, 2000.
History of the Oceania Masters Athletics Championships
The development of the concept of Oceania Regional Championships owes much to the efforts and enthusiasm of OMA and NZMA Life Member, Clem Green as detailed above.
These efforts were rewarded when Fiji undertook the major task of staging the first Oceania Championships held in 1982 in Suva.
The following brief comments have been obtained from various sources. Although limited, it is hoped they will provide an outline of the history of these important and friendly events.
A record of past Oceania Regional Championships would be incomplete without reference to the assistance given over the years by the dedicated band of officials from New Zealand and Australia who have made the various Championships successful by their considerable efforts and their eager participation. They have become as much part of the Championships as the athletes; their friendliness and assistance is appreciated by athletes, organising committees and OMA.
Two special Trophies are awarded at each Championships. The Clem Green trophy is awarded for the highest age-graded performance in the 1500 metres.
The Inter-Island Challenge Shield Shield is awarded to the best island Affiliate or Associate (excluding New Zealand and Australia), based overall placings in all events.
Details about these trophies/events can be found OMA-Special-Events