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Who is a "Master Athlete"?

Who is a "Master" Athlete?

Expressions such as “senior” or “veteran” are frequently applied to mature athletes. In the context of the World Masters Games, the term “Master” is applied to male and female competitors who comply with the International Sports Federations’ rules regarding the minimum age in their respective sport. Most Masters’ sports are arranged in age categories which increase by five or ten-year intervals.


As a guideline, the minimum age is 30 years. However, this depends on each sport’s international rulings and a decision by the host city organising committee and the IMGA Board of Governors.


Although no prior qualification is required in order to participate, many masters are extremely competent and competitive. Several are former World Champions or Olympians, others have had talents and motivation to make it to the top, but for various reasons, they never had the opportunity. Some compete solely to defy their age or to add a competitive element to the desire of staying in good shape.


All competitions are run by the respective international sports federation, in accordance with the technical specifications of the different federations.

Fishing Rods


Competitive fishing based on the use of a hook (angle). Also enjoyed recreationally worldwide.



Bat and Ball game popularised primarily in North and South America.


The SA Masters Baseball Association (SAMBA) was formally established at a provincial tournament arranged at the Pretoria Technikon in July 1993.


Steve Burrage from the Eastern Transvaal took the initiative and was the founding figure of SAMBA.

Image by Jack Hamilton


Popular competitive card game enjoyed across the globe.

It was introduced as a sport in South Africa in 1954.

Chess Board


Popular strategic board game also enjoyed recreationally worldwide.

Its origins go back to antiquity, and the game shows no sign of stopping in modern times.

Image by Jorge Mallo


Competitive Olympic diving from various heights, with many similarities to gymnastics.



SA Masters Gymkhana Union had its first championships in Bloemfontein in 1987, and since then, during August.


The oldest rider is Senator Jannie Mohl who is 77 years of age.

3D Modern Sculpture


Ringball is a traditional South African sport that stems from basketball and has been played since 1907. The sport is now promoted in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, India, and Mauritius to establish Ringball as an international sport. The sport is played by both men and women teams.



The game was founded in America in 1892 specifically designed for women by Professor Naismith, from where it spread to all the corners of the globe.


SA Women's Netball Association was established in 1951 as a national body.

Swimming Pool



Modern version of the Pentathlon, introduced by Pierre de Coubertin, involving shooting, swimming, fencing, equestrianism, and cross country running.

Hockey Equipment


Form of Hockey more similair to Ice Hockey, popular in the Portuguese community in South Africa and competed Internationally.

Shooting Target


Modern sport similair to Archery involving Firearms in the place of a bow.

Squash Equipment


Indoor racquet and ball sport involving 2 or 4 players, played with a rubber ball.



Similar to many Racuqet games involving Rings in place of a ball.


Ringtennis has been played as an organised sport in South Africa since the 1950’s. The SA Ringtennis Board was established in 1959. Most Senior Masters: Ina van Biljon (57), Kobus Craig (54).

Image by Chris Karidis


Tri-disciplined event involving swimming, cycling and running.

Image by Markus Spiske


Water fitness is a good exercise to start off with as it helps you get a feeling for how you can create resistance.

Wrestling Gear


One can only guess how old wrestling is, but it has along with running been around for as long as there were people. In the days of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, wrestling was already a highly developed sport. With the introduction of the Modern Olympic Games in 1896, wrestling was included as one of the most important items.

Archery Arrows


Sport involving the use of a bow to shoot arrows at a target.


Most senior master participant is Jan Jacobs who is 76 years old.

Basketball Dunk


Team game based on shooting the ball through the opposing team's Hoop.

Introduced professionally in South Africa in 1953, it is now gaining steadily in popularity.



Lawn ball game dating back to the 13th Century, and to the late 19th Century locally.

The game involves rolling larger balls as close as possible to a smaller target ball.

Cricket Equipment


Indoor version of one of South Africa's most beloved sports.

It's believed to have originated in medieval England, with the indoor variety being introduced locally much more recently, but is nevertheless enjoyed by many.

Fencing Mask


A combat sport dating back to the late 19th Century. The object is to score hits on the opponent for points.


While fencing has been an active sport in South Africa for at least 50 years, the Masters Section is relatively young.

Judo Belts


A martial art dating back to 1882, and introduced to South Africa in 1945.


The oldest active member is Nobby Clark who is still an active instructor at the age of 72. Nobby started Judo in 1949.

Image by Natalie Grainger


In 1961 SA Lifesaving took over the teaching and certifying of lifesaving techniques from the Royal Life Saving Society.


The most senior masters are George Moolman – 65 years of age and Barbara Pearce – 59 years of age.



A cross country form of cycling with a focus on traversing challenging environments.

Horse Rider Closeup Unidentified Polocro


A combination of Polo and Lacrosse, Polocrosse was introduced to Durban Riding Club at Kingspark in 1949 by Britain.



Most senior Master – Ernest Gearing – 84 years of age.

Image by Dan Burton


Originating in the mid 19th Century amongst British officers in India, Snooker is related to Pool, with alterations on rules and ball colours.

Surfboard Fins


Water sport with origins in Polynesia, now popularly recognised globally and done recreationally worldwide.

Bowling Lane


Solitary or team sport involving scoring points based on the number of pins knocked over.

Tug of War


Ancient strength based sport involving opposing teams tugging a rope against eachother.

Net and Ball


Competitive team game played in water, based on hitting the ball into the opponent's goal to score points.

Running Gear


A broad range of disciplines including competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking.


World Veteran Athletics Championships are held at two year intervals beginning from 1975 in Toronto. In 1997 the host city was Durban.

Barbell Weights


The first competition took place in 1903 as the ‘’most perfectly developed man in America”. It was held in Madison Square Gardens with a prize of $1000 (a small fortune back then). Bodybuilding has since grown, but is still enjoyed as a recreational sport world over by millions in gyms and garages.

Kayaking at Sunrise


The South African Canoeing Federation came into being directly as a result of the Pietermaritzburg to Durban Canoe Marathon-now the Dusi. A decision to form a national canoe union was made the day before the 1954 race.

Cropped Bike


The Veterans Cycling Association was founded 25 years ago.


Most senior Master participant is Jan de Cleroq at 64 years of age.

Golf Equipment


National Senior Ladies Golf was founded in 1994 and has an annual tournament hosted by each province in rotation.


The most senior master is Jean Bax.



Jukskei originated in the Cape, South Africa around 1734. Transport drivers played this social game as a past time on their journeys. The first organised game was played on 4 November 1939 and in 1940 the SA Jukskei Board was established.

Image by sporlab


Long distance race of 42km originating in Ancient Greece.

Image by Daniil Silantev


Orienteering is a competitive sport involving navigation through veld or forest round a series of checkpoints using a map and a compass.

Pool Balls


Table top ball game in which competitors aim to sink their balls and ultimately the black 8 ball to win.

Image by Thomas Serer


One of South Africa's most popular sports dating back to 1875.

Image by Alex


The Masters or Vets Football(Soccer) has come a long way in South Africa. The sport at this level was never disciplined and organized into any format or association as in other Masters Sports. The masters/vets Soccer is comprised mostly of ex-professional players from the N.P.S.L., N.F.L. and other leagues from years gone by.

Swimming Pool


The inaugural general meeting of South African Masters Swimming was held in Durban on 27 April 1985. South African Masters Swimming is well established and we will continue to promote Fitness, Fellowship and Fun in swimming for the over 25s.

Image by He Junhui


Racquet sport originating in 19th Century England, involves hitting the ball into the opponent's court.



Underwater form of the Hockey game.

Water Skiing


Water based sport with many varying events and sub-disciplines, involving being towed behind a boat.

Badminton Equipment


Dating back to 1938 in South Africa, Badminton is a racquet sport based on hitting the shuttlecock into the opponent's court.

Swimming in Nature


Competitive sport involving Running and Swimming across various distances in the best time possible.



Founded in 1906, a field sport involving hitting balls through hoops using a Mallet.



Darts has been organised in this country since 1957. The World Darts Federation was formed in 1977 and their first president was the late Shun David from South Africa.

Field Hockey Stick


Popular South African sport played on a field using a stick and a ball.

It's played competitively both locally and internationally. 

Volleyball Court


Game similar to Netball and Basketball originating in the Netherlands, played in over 70 countries worldwide.

Image by Greg Rosenke


A lighter walking sport with a focus on fun.

Long Jump


Five disciplined event involving long jump, javelin, discus, stadion and wrestling. 

First observed in the Ancient Greek olympics.



The South African Powerlifting Federation is the official Powerlifting body in South Africa. There are three disciplines that make up the sport, namely the squat, the bench press and the dead lift.

Image by Ludomił


Team sport across a variety of water environments with varying events.

Softball Equipment


The Golden Oldies was introduced by having a fun game in 1984. This proved to be so popular that it became an annual event played by every province, including Zimbabwe and Namibia. Most senior master: Charlotte Basson – 61 years of age.

Ping Pong Paddle


Smaller and more agile version of traditional Tennis, played with a shrunken tabletop court and net, using light ping pong balls.

Woman on Galloping Horse


Ancient equestrian sport, involving hitting ground targets while on horseback.



Competitive team game involving hitting the ball into the opponent's court to score points.

Played locally in many leagues and clubs, including both Beach and Indoor.

Image by Delaney Van


Similar to powerlifting, requiring great strength and determination  

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