New Zealand sporting greats receive honours at investiture ceremonies

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Sport News,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 3:52PM
(Dan Carter with the All Blacks. (Photo / Supplied)
(Dan Carter with the All Blacks. (Photo / Supplied)

Former All Black Dan Carter, golfer Lydia Ko, America's Cup skipper Glenn Ashby and Olympic great Barbara Kendall will be celebrated at investiture ceremonies at Government House in Auckland today.

Barbara Kendall

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport

Barbara Kendall has always been a trailblazer. She ended a 40-year Olympic gold medal drought for New Zealand females in 1992 and later earned the full set of Games medals.

Kendall is the only female from this country to have competed at five Olympics, the last two as a mother.

And over the past 14 years, she has been an agent of change within the International Olympic Committee, as a strong voice for athletes and women.

That lifetime of work was recognised today, as the 51-year-old was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to sport.

Kendall, who was honoured with an MBE in 1993, was thrilled with the news.

"To be recognised and honoured for all the work I've been doing over the past 14 or so years on the governance and leadership side of sport, with the IOC in and around Oceania and New Zealand, is wonderful," Kendall told the Herald following the New Years honours annoucement.

"It's been a huge commitment. Some years, I was spending close to 130 days overseas, going to meetings, going to all sorts of things. It's been full-on but also good fun and I've learnt so much about the political side of the sport, and the governance side, it's been invaluable."

Kendall got on the IOC athletes' commission in 2005. She had been part of the New Zealand athletes' commission for a decade and at the time was a veteran of four Olympic Games but she found herself out of her depth.

"I had no idea what the IOC was about. As an athlete, you really don't understand how the big machine works," said Kendall.

"I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. [Daughter] Amy was only 3 months old, and I was breast feeding. It wasn't something that was seen and done around the IOC, that's partly why there were no women involved.

"They realised they had to change the way they did things if they wanted to have women in sport, especially younger women in sport.

"I remember sitting around the table at the first meeting, UN style, with microphones and interpreters and feeling completely out of my depth.

"At my first meeting, we weren't really encouraged to speak at all, but by the time I left [in 2016], we couldn't shut the athletes up."

Kendall progressed quickly, thanks to her proactive approach and supportive colleagues within Oceania.

"By the end of it, I was on 13 different working groups, commissions and executive boards all around the world," said Kendall. "They were amazing opportunities and we had some great achievements."

Kendall also still has fond memories of that gold in Barcelona, where she became the first New Zealand female at the top of the podium since long jumper Yvette Williams in 1952.

"It was massive," recalled Kendall. "[But] I had no idea what kind of impact that would have. It wasn't until that ticker tape parade up Queen Street that I realised my life was never going to be the same again."

She can still occasionally be spotted on the water, into wind-surf foiling, but is more likely to be watching her daughters sailing or playing water polo.

"It's been an amazing experience," said Kendall. "I just wanted to make things better for athletes and I am proud of what has been achieved."

Lydia Ko

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to golf.

The Aucklander has a host of awards to her name - including the Halberg Supreme Award in 2013. But the achievement most sports fans would recognise is when Ko became the youngest golfer of either gender to become world No 1, in 2015.

Her impact has been amazing, and Time magazine listed Ko amongst the world's 100 most influential people in 2014. At just 21, her career is at a crossroad, her ranking having slipped to 14. She was so good, it is proving hard to live up to. As an ESPN writer put it: "She wasn't just a prodigy; it seemed she would rewrite the entire landscape of the LPGA."

Glenn Ashby

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sailing.

Poacher turned gamekeeper from a New Zealand point of view. The former Oracle coach, an Australian, joined Team New Zealand in 2010 and was skipper when they found glory by lifting the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda. A glittering sailing career - often under the Australian flag - includes a host of world titles achieved by the multihull master.

Dan Carter

New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby

Carter played 112 tests for the All Blacks from 2003 to 2015 during which he was named World Rugby player of the year on three occasions. Carter was named player of the match in the 2015 World Cup final win over Australia where the All Blacks won a second straight World Cup title. His playing career included more than 140 games for the Crusaders.

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