THE sun shone brightly as a record number of athletes paraded through the streets of Horsham on Monday morning before the opening ceremony of the Tri-State Games.
For the third year in a row Horsham residents lined Firebrace streets to cheer on the athletes as they marched from Pynsent Street all the way to May Park.
Games chairperson Daryle Baldock said the Horsham community had really embraced the games over the past three years.
“From all the people in the shops up the street who have taken time out to cheer them on with the march to those that continue to display flyers,” he said.
“Over the past three years people have really warmed to what we are doing and have got on board with it.”
The 337 athletes from 43 teams set up in the shade once they reached May Park as Horsham mayor Pam Clarke welcomed each team individually.
Horsham Rockets athlete Sharon Creasey then raised the games flag before teammate Maureen Cameron sung the national anthem with help from Horsham Primary School’s signing choir.
Tom Leembruggen and Andrew Lang read the athletes oath before Baldock officially declared the games open.
The hot Monday weather caused the cricket, netball and soccer to be cancelled in the afternoon but executive officer Sean Hames said it had still been a good start to the week.
“Really I’m just looking forward to everyone getting into the competition,” he said.
Hames has been involved in the games for the past 19 years.
Too often people tend to focus on what people with disabilities can’t do. The games showcase what they can all do.Sean Hames
He said he enjoyed the games because they focused on what the athletes could do.
“Too often people tend to focus on what people with disabilities can’t do,” he said. “The games showcase what they can all do.”
Baldock encouraged Horsham residents to take the opportunity to come along to support the athletes during the week.
“The games show how a sports program works so well because the athletes are keen to take part in their events,” he said.
“Just seeing them all out there with smiles on their faces as they have a good time is really special.
“They don’t come with any expectations other than having a good time.”
He said athletes get excited for the next year just weeks after the games finish.
“I was talking to a lady from the Portland side that came for the first time last year,” he said.
“They haven’t stopped talking about the games for 12 months; they were that keen to come back a second time and the same applies to all the teams. Everyone that takes part just gets so much out of the week each year.”