Biography

Ross Collinge
Born 1944

Wellingtonian Ross Collinge picked up a pair of Olympic medals, winning a coxed four gold in 1968 and a coxless four silver in 1972.

Having burst into national prominence at the 1967 New Zealand championships, when he rowed powerfully for the Hutt Valley team, Collinge was chosen as one of the coxed four to compete in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

Initially the rowers in the four were disappointed not to have been picked for the prestigious eight. However, after a few weeks in camp at Kerrs Reach, Christchurch, the four had realised they had a special chemistry. In coach Rusty Robertson’s words: “When they got together, they were they funniest-looking crew you’d ever seen.” This dark horse status was to work to their advantage.

The eight, so impressive in the build-up to the Olympics and in the early rounds, crumbled late in the final and came fourth. The New Zealand oarsmen finished in a state of distress, mainly because of the thinner altitude at Mexico City.

However the four – stroke Dick Joyce, Dudley Storey, Collinge and Warren Cole, plus cox Simon Dickie - never put a foot wrong, winning their heat and semi-final, though not in the fastest times. In the final they pushed their bow ahead at 300m and continued to attack, winning by nearly three seconds, from East Germany and Switzerland. That was the last time they raced together – three races, three victories, and the gold medal.

At Munich in 1972 Collinge was in the coxless four that raced magnificently to finish a close second to the formidable East Germans in the Olympic final.

In 1975, Collinge was a member of the New Zealand eight that took the bronze medal at the world championships at Nottingham.

He was part of a strong Hutt Valley team that won the national coxed fours title in 1967, 68, 69 and with the Wellington team won a fourth fours title in 1972. He and Dick Joyce won a national coxed pairs title in 1970.

Collinge was already a chemist, having trained at Petone Tech, when he was rowing at international level and went on to become one of the best-known pharmacists in the Hutt Valley.

He and his wife Valerie have two children. Collinge had a two-year stint on the national rowing council in the late 1970s.

The 1968 coxed four that included Collinge was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.