Thousands of young athletes in Tauranga for annual AIMS Games

Hundreds of intermediate and middle school students have kicked off this year’s AIMS Games by giving it their all at the first event in Tauranga.

The week-long event sees more than 10,000 school students from NZ, Australia and the Pacific compete. Source: 1 NEWS

And Tauranga Intermediate's Renee Carey took the first to win big, smashing an AIMS Games record and winning the year 7 girls' cross country in bare feet.

"I'm feeling pretty stoked," she said.

"I used to be really slow because I used to wear shoes and now I just don't wear shoes and I go much faster!"

The event is in its 15th year and is said to be the largest sporting event for 11 to 13-year-olds in the Southern Hemisphere.

In fact, it draws more athletes than the Commonwealth Games and is just a few hundred competitors shy of the Olympics, with more than 300 schools taking part as well as students from Australia and the Pacific.

They compete in 22 sports.