This article appeared in the Herald on September 4, 1972, during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Yesterday was the greatest day in rowing for New Zealand with gold and silver medals being won within the hour.

The gold came to New Zealand in the glamour event - the eights - and the silver in the coxless fours.

New Zealand is third on the medal list at this regatta, behind East Germany and the Soviet Union and ahead of the great rowing nation, West Germany.


We saw a victory over the scientific approach of West Germany by the comparative raw strength of eight young New Zealanders. Everyone saw it and will have been impressed: the amateurs can still win against sports medicine and State sponsorship.

To start at the beginning of the day, the coxed four - New Zealand's third-ranked crew - fought with the "bulls" - the best West German crew - held third place at halfway, but faded in the last quarter of the race to lose fifth place at the line.

Then came the coxless four, two of them gold medallists from Mexico City. From the start there were only two crews in it, New Zealand in the far lane and East Germany inside them.

Throughout the first 500 metres they were stroke for stroke. New Zealand made their crucial effort around 800 metres, quickly taking a third of a length and strecthing it toward a length at the 1000 metres. By 1250 they had gained a full length and held it at the 1500.

But the effort had been too hard for too long and when the famed East German finish was switched on in the last 500 metres it was too much.

They pulled back the length and gained another half-length, as they raised their pace to within three seconds of their opening 500 metres.

Some regret

There was some regret in the New Zealand boat. They had raced what may be considered the finest of all rowing crews - twice world, twice European, and now twice Olympic champions - and had been beaten by just half a length.


In the eights, by 500 metres, New Zealand had almost a threequarter length on East Germany and a length on West Germany, at 750 almost a length on the field.

This was more than expected at this point, and around 900 metres, they moved again.

Through 1000 metres and onward they had more than a length. The small television screens throughout the main stand showed the New Zealand boat on its own, four boats in a near-perfect line behind it, and clear water between the one and the four.

As the New Zealand boat passed through the line just over a boat length clear, the arms of Hunter in the middle of the boat went in the air. Robertson in the bow lay flat down in exultation. Veldman at seven pulled back the stroke, Hurt, in his arms.

They received their medals from Mr Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee and "God Defend New Zealand" was played for the first time at the Olympics.

Then there was a victory row past the stands, while cannon exploded in the distance and smoke puffs hung in the air.

Then they rowed off to acknowledge, on the far side, a band of supporters who had pressed down into the water's edge with a New Zealand flag.

It seemed they did not want to come off the water. When they did, sirens sounded from a squadron of speedboats and a horde or countrymen, oarsmen and photographers thronged the pontoon.

Final break up

NZPA reports that when the German Navy band played "God Defend New Zealand", it was the final break-up point for the New Zealand contingent.

At each of the Australian gold medal ceremonies at the swimming pool the anthem has been "God Save the Queen" and it was assumed by everyone that it would be played for the New Zealanders.

New Zealand officials said the decision to drop the British anthem was not theirs.

"We were both surprised and delighted when the band started playing our national song," they said.

But the band did not set a precedent. The combination that was on hand in Helsinki 20 years ago when Yvette Williams won her long jump gold also played "God Defend New Zealand" although its rendition was not in the same class as the Navy band one.