Great New Zealand Olympians of the past

New Zealand didn’t compete as a nation in its own right until 1920; in the previous Olympics we had competed as a conjoint team with Australia. In 1920 New Zealand’s first Olympic team took 9 weeks to get to Antwerp by ship. Every member of that team made it to the finals, and Violet Walrond, our first female Olympian, was with them. She was only 15 at the time, and only 14 when she qualified. Unfortunately, she stopped swimming at 18.

Our first gold medal was in boxing, and was won by Ted Morgan in 1928. Yvette Williams was the first New Zealand woman to win a gold medal in 1952, in long-jump. The next female Olympian to win Gold was Barbara Kendall, in 1992. ¬†Barbara Kendall competed in five Olympic Games…that’s pretty impressive!

Perhaps the most famous historical Olympian is Peter Snell.¬† He first won gold in the 800m race in 1960, and won two more gold medals in 1964. But he’s not New Zealand’s most ‘successful’ Olympian: that’s Ian Ferguson, a canoeist, who has won 4 gold medals and one bronze across five Olympic games.


This is a great book that will tell you about some of out best Olympians.