Northland Special Olympic athletes will have home advantage as they look to take the next step towards competing at the National Games in Dunedin later this year.
Whangarei's ASB Sports Arena will today host around 48 athletes who all must meet the qualifying standard if they wish to continue their journey to nationals.
Ten-pin bowling coach and Special Olympics Northland treasurer Glynis Collins said 39 Northland athletes hope to qualify this weekend. "They still have to compete. [For example] our indoor bowlers - we've got eight, at the moment - they've qualified for Tier one. The next step is Tier two."
This weekend's Tier one event will qualify athletes for the Tier two event which will then serve as a qualifier for the National Games.
Athletes from all over Auckland are making the journey north to compete in shot put, softball throw, mini-javelin, running long jump, standing long jump and running races ranging from 50m to 1500m.
"It's an opportunity to - I wouldn't say it's the first in the country - try our [mini] javelin. We've never had one before so I can't tell you what it looks like."
Collins said Special Olympics Northland was trying to encourage younger athletes to come to compete, but said it still had one Northlander in her 50s who competes.
Collins added today's event wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the volunteers who were helping out. The event starts at 10.30am and is scheduled to go to about 2.30pm.