There are some well-known names, particularly from the latter years, on the list of Napier and Hastings-born people who have made the march within a stadium bearing the Olympic flame, although given their achievements every last individual stands out in their own way.

Equestrian Maurice Beatson and swimmer Moss Burmester were both born in Hastings, as were the rowing power pair of Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell.

Fellow rowers Eric Murray and Juliette Haigh are also Hastings born, and there too is cycling's Jeremy Yates and Westley Gough.

On the Napier list there is rower Emma Twigg, basketball's Paul Henare and Kirtsen Daly, hockey's Shea McAleese and football's Sam Jenkins. And the stalwart of Hawke's Bay boxing, Paddy Donovan, now 79 and who fought at two Olympic Games.


In the twin cities the number of Olympians born within the Hastings District comes in at 22 while 19 Olympians started out life in Napier and there have been a good sprinkling from across the wider Bay landscape.

So no doubts about it, Hawke's Bay has produced a fine slice of the country's Olympians through the history of the modern games.

"Oh absolutely," Sport Hawke's Bay CEO Mark Aspden said.

"And I think it is because everything lines up here so well - there is that great passion for sport and we have a very outdoors environment."

Add to that fine facilities, a great coaching culture and an absolute passion among the up-and-coming sporting stand-outs to achieve at the highest level they can reach and it all indeed lines up so well.

"My son is into rowing and he can get down to the Clive River to practice at any time of the year," Mr Aspden said

He pointed out that another factor in the Bay's favour was its relatively predictable and pleasant climate - pretty well all year round.

He has no doubt the Olympics spark youngsters into action.

"To put it simply, it is about doing stuff and they get out there and do things."

Youngsters became aware of past pupils who had made a sporting splash nationally, and those who had made the Olympic teams.

That gave many a great self-belief that "if they could do it then so can I".

He cited the devotion and determination of people like Sir Graeme Avery being another factor in the Bay flying the sporting flag so highly.

"He works in closely with so many other talented people."

Mr Aspden said the evidence was clearly there in the range of sports Hawke's Bay-born Olympians had excelled at.

Among the list there is hockey, basketball, boxing, canoeing, triathlon, sailing, cycling, football, equestrian, athletics and swimming.

"The whole gamut."