By TERRY MADDAFORD
Stan Lay MBE - Javelin thrower, sports administrator. Died aged 96.
Stanley Arthur Lay was always pretty good at throwing things. As a youngster in Hawera he had shown he could hurl a cricket ball a long, long way.
By the 1920s that throwing arm was whipping the javelin further than ever before seen in this country.
Those who know regard the javelin as the most difficult of all throwing events.
Lay was the master, the first in a long line of New Zealand javelin throwers who have made their mark internationally.
Although New Zealand athletes, often middle distance runners, have burst on to the world scene, few apart from long jump great Yvette Williams flew the field-events flag as Lay did.
In 1927, he threw the javelin an amazing 66.50m in terrible conditions at Wellington's Athletic Park.
Disbelieving officials decided it was wind-assisted and disallowed what would have been a record.
Olympic selection followed, as New Zealand's first thrower. In England preparing for the 1928 games in Amsterdam, Lay threw even further. His 67.90m stood as a Commonwealth record for 26 years.
Buoyed by that, Lay was confident of a bold Olympic showing. His dream lasted just three throws, his best of 62.89m only good enough for seventh place and elimination.
Lay had to wait for two years and the last day of the first British Empire Games in Canada for revenge and gold.
In shocking conditions he unleashed a throw of 63.75m to win easily from South African Harry Hart.
Lay returned eight years later to the Empire Games in Sydney where his throw, though almost a metre shorter, was good enough for the silver medal.
The Depression and World War II disrupted Lay's career. He won his first national title in 1926 and his last and 12th in 1950, which earned him a trip to Auckland for the fourth British Empire Games and sixth place.
He was not beaten by a New Zealand competitor until 1948, when Claude Clegg edged him. Clegg was the only New Zealander to beat Lay.
Lay retired from competition in his early 40s. As chief field judge, he gave commitment and energy to the sport that had given him so much.
He was made an MBE in 1987 and inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
As New Zealand's oldest Olympian, Lay held a special place in this country's sporting lore and remains an inspiration to those who aspire to javelin throwing.
By TERRY MADDAFORD