101 medals and counting

By Zac Yates

Paeroa woman Gina Stephens sawed her way to her 100th NZ Masters Games medal at Wanganui's Springvale Park yesterday.

The diminutive 65-year-old was competing for the first time in woodchopping and finished the day with two gold, one silver and one bronze medal in the event - taking her final medal tally to 101. Friend and fellow competitor Iain Linton, who has been chopping and sawing for 40 years, had suggested she take part.

"Iain rang me to ask if I was keen to give it [woodchopping] a go, and I thought, well I'm going down anyway so I could enter another event.

"My husband used to do it, so I knew how it worked and I knew all the rules, and I couldn't see why I shouldn't. I asked Iain to give me 48 hours to think about it and then on the Tuesday I said yes."

Among the classes she entered were the Jack and Jill two-person saw with Linton, and the Jill and Jill with fellow first-timer Keri Browning, where the two novice ladies took home gold.

The night before, Stephens had won five gold medals swimming at the Splash Centre.

"I used to do the hockey and athletics as well, but I have a crook knee so I can't really do as much any more."

Stephens has participated in, and won medals at, every Wanganui Masters Games since 1991 except for 2011, when she had to remain at home as her husband had been in a road accident.

She has also competed at most of the Dunedin games.

"I won bronze here in'91, and'93 and'95, and then things got really serious when I started swimming in'97," she said.

Now with 101 pieces of Masters Games silverware to her name, there is the problem of how to display so many medals, but Stephens has solved it with typical Kiwi ingenuity.

"I've got a piece of dowelling running across the wall in the living room that they all hang from. I just drape a sheet over them to keep the dust off."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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