A nephew of master coach Rusty Robertson. Gary Robertson won an Olympic gold medal in the eight in 1972.
He was a member of the New Zealand eight that finished third at the world championships at St Catharines, Canada, in 1970 and then won the European title at Copenhagen in 1971.
The big one, of course, was the Olympic gold medal. The New Zealanders were among the favourites at Munich and duly delivered. Rusty Robertson prepared them well, and they responded by outclassing a quality field to win by nearly three seconds, from the Americans and East Germans.
This was an important victory for the “amateur” New Zealanders over the “professional” northern hemisphere crews, and, significantly, the medals were presented by IOC chief Avery Brundage.
New Zealand’s rowing stocks were never higher than that emotional day at Feldmoching when the eight – Tony Hurt, Wybo Weldman, Dick Joyce, John Hunter, Lindsay Wilson, Athol Earl, Trevor Coker, Robertson and cox Simon Dickie – stood on the dais, gold medals around their necks, listening to God Defend New Zealand while they shed tears of joy.
Coming from Oamaru, Robertson did not row in crews strong enough to win national titles, but he was so talented he claimed the No 1 seat in the champion Olympic eight.
Robertson worked hard for rowing over a long period. After a stint working in rubbish collection in Christchurch, he set up the rowing club at the Rangiruru girls school and has was partly responsible for Rangiruru becoming a power of national schoolgirls’ rowing.
Robertson then moved to Hamilton where he continued to coach rowing.
His wife, Sharon, and she is linked to rowing, as well. Her sister, Lorraine, is married to George Paterson, who rowed for New Zealand at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The 1972 Olympic rowing eight was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990, and the eight won the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year crown in 1971 and 1972.