Justine meets her prince
MINISTER for Ageing and Tweed girl Justine Elliot had a brush with royalty at the World Masters Games at Sydney on Sunday night.
As part of Mrs Elliot's role representing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the event, she joined Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in the official opening party.
Despite their age, the athletes partied like it was the year 2000 at an opening ceremony that was almost as spectacular as Sydney's Olympic effort.
Mrs Elliot gave a speech to the thousands of people in the stand and more than 20,000 athletes who had marched into the stadium.
“It was a real honour being there, representing the Prime Minister to welcome all the people,” Mrs Elliot told the Tweed Daily News yesterday from Hobart.
It was the biggest crowd Mrs Elliot had addressed and she admitted there were a couple of butterflies in the stomach in the lead-up to the speech.
“It is always a bit nerve racking to speak in front of that many people, but it was an honour and a privilege,” she said.
Mrs Elliot and Australia's favourite prince came across each other for a brief moment at the opening ceremony.
Mrs Elliot said the Prince came across as a nice guy.
“He was very friendly and down to earth and very keen to be involved and compete in the games himself,” she said.
“It was an absolute pleasure to meet him and welcome him to Australia.”
Frederick, who competed as a sailor at the Sydney Olympics, will hoist the sails of his tasar for a shot at gold in the masters games this week.
Mrs Elliot told the crowd it was a particularly great achievement for 100-year-old competitor Ruth Frith to be a part of the games and a great cheer went up through the crowd her name was mentioned.
“We are a sporting nation and welcome the competitors from around the world that have come here in the spirit of fun and sporting competition,” she said.
“The Games are an opportunity for competitors, supporters and spectators to travel the world, make new friends and celebrate a collective love of sport, proving you are never too old to get involved.
“Over the coming days, records will be broken and new ones will be set.
“We will witness some great individual and team performances and I wish all competitors the best of luck.”
The World Masters Games brings together competitors from 95 countries and an additional 3600 friends and family, team personnel and officials.
The motto of the Games is “fit fun and forever young”.
The World Masters Games began in Toronto, Canada in 1985 and the number of competitors is now double than that of the Olympics.
This year Australia will have more than 19,800 athletes with an average age of 50 competing at the Games.
Minister Elliot said the Australian Government is providing $8.5 million to support the games and they are projected to provide an economic benefit to the greater New South Wales economy of $50 million.