23 Nov
23 November 2017

Manfeild tops with Special Olympics NZ

WORLD class quality has earned Manfeild repeat host rights to the only 2017 Special Olympics New Zealand event to stage outside of Wellington.

Thirty-nine riders from throughout the country will come to the Feilding venue for equestrian competition next week that is part of the organisation’s National Summer Games.

Every other event is being staged in and around the Capital, but when it came to the November 28-30 riding competition, only the best would do – that’s Manfeild Park.

The allure today is as it was when the competition last staged there in 2009. Thinking then that the massive indoor and outdoor eventing areas were unequalled for that inaugural try-out still holds true now, event spokespeople say.

“Our athletes need to be competing in world class venues,” says Kathy Gibson, Special Olympics New Zealand chief executive officer.

“We have chosen Manfeild Park as our equestrian venue for our National Summer Games as we believe that this is the best facility for these types of national sporting events in the country.”

“We have 39 incredible equestrian riders taking part from the Bay of Islands through to Canterbury. 

“The standard of competition will be extremely high and although Special Olympics is not about elite sport, we still expect athletes will achieve a number of personal bests in their various disciplines.

“A number will also have their eye on a pathway through to our 2019 World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.”

Ian McKelvie, Special Olympics New Zealand chairman, the Member of Parliament for Rangitikei and also a former mayor of the Manawatu district, said he was naturally pleased to see this event in his home town.

However, he added, the venue’s quality was the key factor for selection.

“Manfeild as a top class equestrian facility played a big part in this Board decision.” 

Another impetus for returning is the local attitude.

“We hosted our 2009 National Summer Games equestrian events at Manfeild Park and the Manawatu community got right in behind with amazing volunteer support,” Mrs Gibson said.

Added Mr McKelvie: “The organisations in the Feilding community have really embraced Special Olympics. 

“I have no doubt that we will see significant public support at Manfeild during our competition days.”

Mrs Gibson says another example of locals putting out a helping hand came from the quality of horses that will be ridden.

To ensure absolute equality and fairness, competitors are allocated mounts from locally-sourced stock.

“This creates a level playing field for those athletes that may not have their own mount,” Mrs Gibson explained. 

“We have been so fortunate to have the Nga Tawa Equestrian Academy (in Marton), Wanganui RDA (Riding for the Disabled) and a number of private owners providing horses for our event.”

Selection is a careful assessment; it’s all about temperament.

This year’s event is also bolstered by leading rural insurer FMG coming in as the primary corporate partner for equestrian volunteers. 

“Many of their staff have rural backgrounds and so know this space well so the training required is minimal,” Mrs Gibson said.

“We love to partner with such community-minded companies and it ends up being a win-win when we celebrate the achievements of our amazing athletes.”

Manfeild Park chief executive Julie Keane is delighted the organisation continues to recognise Manfeild as a top-class facility.

“We are thrilled to have maintained the strong connect established back in 2009, when the Games were entirely held in the Manawatu.

“We host a number of high-profile equestrian events, but this is one of particularly special meaning to us and we are pleased and honoured to have a role to play.”

Special Olympics competition also spans swimming, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, indoor bowls, table tennis and powerlifting.

Special Olympics Equestrian.jpg

Caption: A rider at Manfeild during the 2009 Games.

Photo: Inspire Photography.