DLANZ Sports Desk....40 th Anniversay for Commonwealth Games includes Disabled at Dunedin too
"Join Together" was the theme song of the 1974 Commonwealth Games and Disabled held their 4th at Dunedin was just as symbolic and as important for NZ Sports.
This is a theme of Inclusion, which still has a long way to go...so lets celebrate both.
In 1974 The 4th Commonwealth Paraplegic Games held in Dunedin and as a 15 year old, I was fortunate to attend as a supporter from my days in SNI (Southern North Island) disabled sports. In fact it was my first time seeing the South Island...sailing on The Rangatira inter island ferry service...seeing the games and being inspired by great athletes who should also be remembered for their great efforts, alongside the able bodied at Christchurch a fortnight later.
There is no denying the 10000 metres race won by Dick Taylor or John Walker's great 1500 metre race with Filbert Bayi from Tanzania.....but I feel Bill Lean breaking the World Record in Para Weightlifting was one of the most exciting sports I ever saw. The Wheelchair Basketball team members like Ruben Ngata etc were some of the best in the world. Our women like Eve Rimmer, Julie Compton and Betty Williamson, and Neroli Fairhall (later to win Gold 1982 able bodied Brisbane-Archery) were friendly, committed and supportive of young ones moving up.
The Team Captain Jimmy Savage played a big part in making the Games successful and others like Gary Bryan were part of Aotearoa's sporting history that should not be forgotten...kia kaha to the late Keith McCormack.............A Kaumatua of Disabled
While World Regionals have replaced the Commonwealth Games....it never pays to forget the deeds from these great people....My opinion is both need remembering and I see that being missed. This is to honour both achievements.