Nine medals for 85-year-old swimmer Michael Tunnicliffe at Masters Games

85-year-old swimmer Michael Tunnicliffe took home five golds and four silvers at the recent Masters Games in Whanganui.
Warwick Smith

85-year-old swimmer Michael Tunnicliffe took home five golds and four silvers at the recent Masters Games in Whanganui.

At an age when most retirees are enjoying their golden years relaxing, 85-year-old Michael Tunnicliffe is still making waves — in the pool, that is.

The Feilding man took home nine medals in swimming events last month at the Masters Games in Whanganui and he's not finished yet.

Tunnicliffe said he still had two spare nails on his medal wall to fill in the coming years.

Far from giving up, Michael has two spare nails, left, on his medals board waiting to receive the next set of medals.
Warwick Smith

Far from giving up, Michael has two spare nails, left, on his medals board waiting to receive the next set of medals.

The Masters Games is a 10-day event comprising over 50 different sports and 2400 individual events.

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Since its inception in 1989, the New Zealand Masters Games has grown from humble beginnings of 1500 entrants competing across 29 sports to the heady heights of over 8000 entrants and 67 sports. 

They are hosted annually between Dunedin and Whanganui. 

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Tunnicliffe took out the over-85 breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle to claim five gold and four silver medals.

He doesn't class himself as a competitive swimmer, but has attended the Masters Games since 2007. 

"I do it to keep fit," Tunnicliffe said.

"I'm not a fast swimmer but the competition thins out when you get to my age.

"I try to swim two to three times a week for most of the year round. I swam a lot as a boy but, at one stage, throughout the 1980s I was swimming 60 to 70 lengths a day."

Tunnicliffe said the games offered a chance to socialise with other like-minded people his age and, in doing so, has made a lot of friends over the years. 

"There's one or two of the guys I swim against that I know quite well from past games in Whanganui. There was a man from Tauranga we see each year."

Born in Feilding, Tunnicliffe said he had no intention of leaving the Manawatu town and was now focused on the 2019 Masters Games.

 - Stuff

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