Tony Hurt was the stroke of the 1972 Olympic champion eight and also of the eight that took the bronze medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Hurt broke through internationally when he was part of the 1971 New Zealand eight that won international races at Duisburg, Germany, and Klagenfurt, Austria. When the eight beat the feared East Germans to win the European title at Copenhagen that year, they were awarded the International Olympic Committee’s Taher Pacha Trophy for excellence in amateur sport.
The New Zealanders were among the favourites at the 1972 Munich Olympics and duly delivered. Coach 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 – Hurt, Wybo Weldman, Dick Joyce, John Hunter, Lindsay Wilson, Athol Earl, Trevor Coker, Gary 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.
Hurt remained a pivotal figure in the New Zealand eight, which won a world championship bronze medal at Lucerne in 1974 before repeating the bronze medal effort two years later at the Montreal Olympic Games.
He was a dominating influence in the West End eight that won the national title in 1972 and in the club’s quadruple sculls team that won the New Zealand crown in 1976, 77 and 78. He and John White won the national double sculls crown eight times in succession, from 1972-79.
Hurt is a plumber and lives in Auckland. He has remained closely involved with the West End club, in coaching and administrative roles.
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.